Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake

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The fragrance of Meyer lemons makes this chiffon cake really special.  You can substitute regular lemons, but I recommend finding Meyer ones.

Original recipe

 

Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake
Adapted from Just One Cookbook

Yield: 10″ tube pan

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 170 grams granulated sugar, divided
  • 6 Tablespoons flavorless oil (such as vegetable or canola)
  • 3-4 Meyer lemons
  • 1 1/3 cup (150 g) cake flour (all-purpose also works)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar, for dusting

 

  1. Preheat oven to 340°F and set aside a 10″ tube pan.  Do NOT grease it.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yolks and about a third of the sugar.
  3. Whisk in oil and  lemon zest until thoroughly combined.
  4. Juice all the lemons and, if necessary, add enough water to get 1/2 cup liquid.
  5. Whisk in baking powder and flour, making sure there are no lumps.
  6. In a separate large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.  Add the remaining sugar in 3 additions and beat until stiff and glossy.
  7. Add a large scoop of the whipped egg whites to the cake batter and mix gently but thoroughly to lighten the batter.
  8. Add the remaining egg whites in 3 additions.  Gently fold into the batter using a large wire whisk, making sure to scrape down the bottom of the bowl frequently.
  9. Pour batter into pan and gently smooth top with a rubber spatula.
  10. Bake at 340°F for 45 minutes without opening the oven door.  The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or when the surface springs back immediately after pressing on it with a finger.
  11. As soon as you remove cake from oven, cool cake completely upside down.  This step is important, because otherwise the cake will sink.
  12. When completely cool, run a thin knife around the side of the cake and around the tube in the middle to loosen it from the pan.
  13. Rapping pan, turn cake out onto a serving plate and dust with powdered sugar.

 

 

Peach Pie

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Since summer is peach season, it seemed like the perfect time to make a peach pie.  I paired my trusty Betty Crocker pie crust recipe from an old cookbook with a peach pie filling from the Betty Crocker website.  If you feel decadent, serve slices with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

Original recipe (which uses a storebought crust)

 

Peach Pie
Adapted from Betty Crocker

Yield: 9-inch pie

For the crust:

  • 2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons shortening (you can add a couple extra tablespoons to make the crust even crispier)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4-5 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 – 5 1/2 cups sliced peeled fresh, ripe peaches (5-6 medium, 4 large)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

 

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  2. Mix flour and salt in a bowl.  Cut shortening into the mixture until pieces are the size of small peas.
  3. Sprinkle in water 1 tablespoon at a time while tossing with fork to moisten the flour.
  4. When the pastry almost cleans the side of the bowl, divide it in half.  Gather each half into a ball.
  5. On a well-floured surface, flatten the first ball, flour a rolling pin, and roll out the pastry until it is 2 inches larger than the inverted pie plate.
  6. Fold pastry into quarters and move into the plate.  Unfold it and press it firmly against the sides and bottom.
  7. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of plate.

To make the filling and assemble the pie:

  1. In large bowl, mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon.
  2. Stir in peaches and lemon juice.
  3. Turn filling into the pastry-lined pie plate.
  4. Roll out the other ball of pastry.  Fold into quarters and unfold again over the filling, cutting slits so steam can escape. (Alternatively, if you’re in a fancy mood, you can cut the pastry into thin strips and make a lattice pattern.)
  5. Trim overhanging edges of the top crust 1 inch from the rim of plate.
  6. Fold and roll top edge under lower edge, pressing on rim to seal it.  For a pretty pattern, press the tines of a fork into the edge of the pastry all around the rim.
  7. Put pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch any juice overflow.
  8. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust.

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cake

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This is a soft, tender, sweet cake studded with chocolate chips that smells wonderfully of coffee.  One of my friends told me that of all the desserts I’ve made, this one is among his favorites.

Baking Notes:

  • The chocolate chips sank to bottom of the pan, but luckily it was not obvious in a layer cake.
  • The cake and frosting are both on the sweet side, so make sure your target audience has a serious sweet tooth!

Original recipe

 

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cake
From New York Times

Yield: Two-layer 8″ cake

For the cake:

  • 113 grams (1/2 cup or 1 stick) salted butter, softened, more for pans
  • 250 grams (2 1/4 cups) sifted unbleached all-purpose flour, more for pans
  • 300 grams (1 1/3 cups) turbinado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk (2 percent or whole)
  • ¾ 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped; or mini chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 360 grams (3 cups) confectioners’ sugar
  • 226 grams (1 cup) salted butter, softened
  • teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • ¾ – 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, for decorating

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans, and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper cut to fit.
  2. Using an electric mixer or by hand, in a bowl, mix the butter and turbinado sugar until evenly blended.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix again until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  5. Add half the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, mix well, then add half the milk and mix again.
  6. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients and milk.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and mix well. The batter may look curdled.
  8. Pour the batter into the pans and bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.
  9. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing cakes from pans to a rack to cool completely. If the cakes are domed, use a long, serrated knife to level the tops.
  10. While cakes are cooling, make the frosting: Using an electric mixer or by hand, mix the confectioners’ sugar with the butter, salt and vanilla, until well blended.
  11. In a small bowl, mix the espresso powder with the boiling water to dissolve; add it to the frosting, blending well.
  12. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a serving platter and spread about one-third of the frosting over the top in an even layer.
  13. Top with the second cake layer and use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread frosting over top and, optionally, sides of the cake.
  14. Decorate with the chocolate chips, if desired.

Colossal Carrot Cake

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For the birthday of a friend who loves carrot cake and the Great British Baking Show, I made Ian’s Colossal Carrot Cake from season 3 (series 7 in the UK).  It’s fairly different from American carrot cake and reminds me a lot of fruit cake.  I’ve converted the measurements and ingredients into American English, so give it a try if you like carrot and fruit cake!

 

Colossal Carrot Cake
Adapted from Ian Cumming, via the Great British Baking Show

Yield: Two-layer 9″ cake

For the cake:

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups light brown muscovado sugar OR dark brown sugar OR white sugar +dollop molasses
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon orange oil OR orange extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground star anise (optional)
  • 320g/11¼oz grated carrots (it’s a LOT of carrots)
  • 1 cup golden OR dark raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1 orange, zest and juice only

 

For the icing:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 capful orange oil OR 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened

  1. Preheat the oven to 355ºF.  Grease a 9″ springform cake pan.

  2. Melt butter in a saucepan then whisk in sugar, eggs, and orange oil OR extract until smooth and well combined.

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, ground spices, and salt.

  4. On medium speed with the stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat butter mixture into dry ingredients until combined.  The batter will be thick.

  5. Beat in carrots, raisins, pecans, orange zest, and juice.

  6. Pour batter into pan and bake for 60-75 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle (check after 45 minutes and cover the top of the cake with baking parchment if the cake is browning too much).

  7. Leave to cool in pan for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  8. For the icing, slowly beat butter and powdered sugar together using an electric mixer.

  9. When combined, add the vanilla paste OR extract and orange oil OR extract.

  10. Continue to mix for another few minutes until light and fluffy.

  11. With the mixer on the slowest speed, add the cream cheese bit by bit until just incorporated.

  12. Cut the cooled cake in half horizontally and spread a third of the icing on the bottom layer, then replace the top. Neatly cover the top and sides of the cake with remaining icing.

 

Earl Grey Chiffon Cake

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This chiffon cake tastes like Earl Grey tea in fluffy cloud form.  Since the cake itself isn’t very sweet, the dusting of powdered sugar on top is perfect.  See here if you want to make a gluten-free version.

Baking Notes:

  • 1 Bigelow teabag contains 1 teaspoon of finely ground tea, so you can skip the grinding step
  • Use fresh eggs, because the egg whites will fluff up more when beaten.
  • Separate the eggs when cold, then allow the whites to come to room temperature before beating them.

Original recipe

 

Earl Grey Chiffon Cake
Adapted from Just One Cookbook

Yield: 10″ tube pan

  • 4 teaspoons Earl Grey loose tea leaves OR 4 teabags
  • 2 Tablespoons Earl Grey loose tea leaves OR 6 teabags
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 170 grams granulated sugar, divided
  • 6 Tablespoons flavorless oil (such as vegetable or canola)
  • 1 1/3 cup cake flour (all-purpose also works)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

 

  1. Preheat oven to 340°F and set aside a 10″ tube pan.  Do NOT grease it.
  2. Using a food processor or mortar and pestle, grind 4 teaspoons tea leaves into a fine powder.  If you don’t have either, put tea leaves in a bag and crush them.
  3. In a fine sieve in a mug or a bowl, steep 2 tablespoons tea leaves in 3/4 cup hot water to make a strong tea.  Cool, remove tea leaves, and set aside.  You will only use 1/2 cup of the tea.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yolks and about a third of the sugar.
  5. Whisk in oil, 1/2 cup tea, and 4 teaspoons finely ground tea leaves until thoroughly combined.
  6. Whisk in baking powder and flour, making sure there are no lumps.
  7. In a separate large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.  Add the remaining sugar in 3 additions and beat until stiff and glossy.
  8. Add a large scoop of the whipped egg whites to the cake batter and mix gently but thoroughly to lighten the batter.
  9. Add the remaining egg whites in 3 additions.  Gently fold into the batter using a large wire whisk, making sure to scrape down the bottom of the bowl frequently.
  10. Pour batter into pan and gently smooth top with a rubber spatula.
  11. Bake at 340°F for 45 minutes without opening the oven door.  The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or when the surface springs back immediately after pressing on it with a finger.
  12. As soon as you remove cake from oven, cool cake completely upside down.  This step is important, because otherwise the cake will sink.
  13. When completely cool, run a thin knife around the side of the cake and around the tube in the middle to loosen it from the pan.
  14. Rapping pan, turn cake out onto a serving plate and dust with powdered sugar.

Crash-O-Cookies

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Crash-O-cookies are soft and chewy in the centers, but crispy at the edges when fresh out of the oven.  I brought these to a birthday party and they vanished pretty quickly.

 

Crash-O-Cookies
From Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies

Yield: 50 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups plump, moist raisins
  • Hot tap water, rum, red wine, brandy, cognac, or black tea to soak raisins
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3-3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2/3-3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 9 oz best-quality milk/bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped OR 3/4 cup milk/semisweet chocolate chips

 

  1. Position racks to divide oven into thirds and preheat to 350ºF.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Put raisins in a bowl and cover with hot tap water OR your choice of alcohol OR tea.  Let them soak while you make dough.
  3. Whisk together the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and freshly grated nutmeg and keep at hand.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat butter, sugars, and salt at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
  6. Beat in the vanilla, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Scrape down sides of bowl.
  7. Stir in oats and flour partially, so flour won’t fly everywhere when you turn on the mixer.
  8. Beat on low speed until dry ingredients are almost blended in.
  9. Drain raisins and pat dry with a paper towel.
  10. Add raisins and chocolate chips.  Mix on low speed just until blended.  (At this point, the dough can be wrapped well and chilled for up to 3 days.)
  11. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.  Gently press down dough until cookies about 1/2 inch thick.
  12. Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating sheets top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes.  The cookies will be golden brown on top, only slightly firm around the edges, and still pokeable (maybe even a bit wet looking) in the centers.  (If the dough were refrigerated and became very hard, you might have to add another minute or so to the baking time.)
  13. Cool cookies on baking sheets on wire racks for 3-5 minutes so they can firm up.
  14. Remove cookies from baking sheets and finish cooling on racks.
  15. Repeat with remaining dough, cooling baking sheets between batches.
  16. Covered, the cookies will keep at room temperature for at least 4 days.  They can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.

 

Tropical Crumble

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Since it’s mango season, you should try this tropical crumble.  Containing caramelized bananas and mangoes, with a nice kick from ginger, it’s a great summer dessert.

 

 

Tropical Crumble
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 6 servings

For the filling:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar OR white sugar
  • 2 ripe but firm mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 ripe but firm bananas, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (1 teaspoon if you omit the fresh ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger (optional)
  • grated zest of 1/4 lime (optional)

For the streusel:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar OR 1/2 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

 

To make the filling:

  1. Melt butter in a wide nonstick skillet over medium-high to high heat.
  2. Sprinkle sugar over butter, and when it bubbles, add mango cubes.
  3. Cook mango for about 2 minutes, without stirring, then turn cubes over and add banana slices.
  4. Cook for another 3 minutes, turning bananas over after 1-2 minutes, until mangoes and bananas are browned.  Keep heat on medium-high to high and don’t move fruit around too much – you want the fruit to hold its shape and texture.
  5. Transfer fruit and whatever juices remain in the pan to a heatproof bowl.
  6. Gently stir in ground ginger, chopped ginger (if using), and lime zest (if using).  Set aside while you make the streusel.

To make the streusel:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat or work butter until it is smooth.
  2. Beat or stir in brown sugar OR white sugar+molasses and salt, until mixture is smooth.
  3. Stir in flour, followed by pecans.
  4. Spread mixture on a piece of wax paper, fold over paper, and freeze for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven.

To assemble and bake:

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400ºF.  Butter or use cooking spray on a 9-inch pie pan (regular or deep dish) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  (I recommend the deep dish pie pan if you have one, because the fruit juices will bubble and overflow a lot while baking.)
  2. Spoon fruit and its liquid into pie pan.
  3. Remove streusel mix from freezer and, using your fingers, break it up into topping-size chunks.  Don’t make the pieces teensy and don’t try to make them even – higgledy-piggledy is the way to go.
  4. Scatter the pieces over the fruit.
  5. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and lower the temperature to 350ºF.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the topping is richly golden and the fruits are bubbling steadily.
  7. Transfer baking sheet to a rack and allow crumble to cool to your preferred serving temperature – just warm or at room temperature.
  8. Serve by spooning into dessert bowls.  If desired, top with whipped cream, runny creme fraiche, sour cream, or vanilla ice cream.
  9. The crumble is best the day it’s made, but you can store it, covered, in the refrigerator and serve it slightly chilled.