Buttery Blueberry Crumb Cake

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Smitten Kitchen is a wonderful blog, and although I’ve spent a little time exploring it, I’ve spent much more time looking at Deb Perelman’s cookbook of the same name, which has such terrific ideas and spins on tastes and flavors. Very inspirational. And of course, I’m right on board with her when it comes to baking. This is one of my favorite bakes from this cookbook. I made it last weekend for my sister’s baby blessing, and am happy to share the recipe here for those who were wanting it! Such a simple cake, but just delicious, and perfect for brunches or breakfast or dessert. Interestingly, this is not the same recipe that is on her blog! 

Buttery Blueberry Crumb Cake

Streusel
6 tablespoons (40 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine
Pinch of salt

Cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh blueberries, clean and dry
1/3 cup sour cream

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 8-inch square baking pan (with at least 2″ sides) and dust it lightly with flour, or line it with a round of parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt until combined, and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Add eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and the zest and beat until combined. Beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture until just combined, followed by all of the sour cream; repeat with another 1/3 of the flour, mix, and then combine the blueberries with the remaining flour mixture and fold this blueberry-flour mixture gently into the batter.

Pour cake batter into prepared pan and smooth so that it is relatively flat. Prepare the streusel by mixing the flour, cornmeal, sugar, cinnamon and salt, then mash in the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle the cake with the prepared streusel. Bake in heated oven for 40(ish) minutes (mine has taken 50 minutes, but the original recipe suggested 35), or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out batter-free. You can let the cake cool completely in the pan on a rack, or just cool it in the pan for 20 minutes before flipping it out onto a cooling rack, removing the parchment paper lining, and flipping it back onto a plate. Enjoy!

 

Salted Chocolate Granola

Chocolate Granola 1

When I get a new cookbook, I usually have a recipe I make the very next day because I just can’t wait to find out what it is. Well, my husband surprised me with a new cookbook in the mail while he was out of town recently (he knows my language of love), and this is the recipe I hopped to the very next minute I could. It comes from Valerie Gordon’s Sweet, with just one revision. She finely chops 8 oz. of bittersweet chocolate and sprinkles it on top of the granola when it’s hot out of the oven, stirs the granola after the chocolate melts, and then lets it cool before serving. She also serves this as a dessert (on top of ice cream or pudding). Well, I wanted this to be breakfast, so I omitted the extra chocolate, and it has been breakfast (and even lunch) nearly every day since I made it. I think it tastes like a very much improved version of Cocoa Puffs (that’s my high-brow opinion). And it’s very easy to not want anything to do with boxed cereals when you have this tucked in your cupboard. Yields about 12 cups.

Chocolate Granola Bowl
Salted Chocolate Granola

  • 4 cups wholemeal rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts, halved
  • ¼ cup cacao nibs
  • 1/3 cup  cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 t. vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fleur de sel or fine sea salt (I found some smoked chocolate salt that I used. Wow!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 F / 120 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon liner and set aside. [I did 350 degrees and only baked it for 40ish minutes.]
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, almonds, hazelnuts, cacao nibs, and fleur de sel or fine sea salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, brown sugar, honey, oil and vanilla.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir well with a rubber spatula until combined and evenly moistened.
  5. Spread the granola in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until crisp and the nuts are turning golden.
  6. Remove the granola from the oven and move the baking sheets to a cool area and allow the granola to cool. It can be stored in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

Chocolate Granola Spoon

A Great Grown-up Cookie

Whole Wheat Cookies with Currants
This healthy little cookie is such a nice package: nuts, cocoa nibs, and currants (think, sweet like a raisin but not nearly as big, so not quite so much chew). I loved that it works so well with whole wheat. It’s just such a nice afternoon snack, both for me and the kids. Definitely one you could have on hand all the time, especially because it keeps well in an airtight container for up to two weeks. You could also swap out the nuts and fruits for other favorites, but Alice Medrich imagined it well how it is. This recipe comes from her book , which I love.

Whole Wheat Hazelnut Cookies with Currants and Cacao Nibs

1 c. (5 oz.) whole hazelnuts
1 c. (4 oz.) white-whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
1 c. (4.5 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 sticks (14 T.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar plus 1 T.
3/8 t. coarse or fleur de sel salt
1 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. roasted cacao nibs
2/3 (scant) c. currants

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until they smell toasty and are golden brown in the middle when you cut one in half. Once cool enough to touch, rub the nuts together to remove as much of their skins as possible (using a towel, if you want). Chop the nuts medium to small.

Combine the flours in a medium bowl and mix with a fork. With a mixer or a strong wooden spoon, beat the butter with the sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth but not fluffy. Mix in the nibs and nuts. Add the flours and mix until just incorporated. Finally, mix in the currants. Scrape the dough into a mass and knead it with your hands a few times to make sure the flour’s incorporated evenly. Form the dough into a 12 x 2-inch log. Wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into slices 1/4-inch thick. Place cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on lined or greased cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are light golden brown at the edges. Rotate cookie sheets halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

Whole Wheat by Lucy

This is the picture my daughter Lucie drew for the cookie. Love it!

Allow cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before moving them onto a wire rack where they should cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Maple Oat Scone

Maple Oat Scone

So, more renewed focus on whole grains in this house, but this time because of recent talk about diabetes, both in our family and in our culture. A bit of a downer. But, fantastically, there are so many great recipes out there that have pioneered modern baking with a more wholesome bent, and I’m making my own tweaks and turns to some favorites, and they are turning out great. I don’t think this is going to be much of a headache at all. Next project: to see if I can get the elementary school to stop handing out so much sugar . . . I’m aware this will be traveling down the path of most unpopular mom, but I think it’s worth a shot. In the meantime, my kids did not balk at all at this terrific scone that’s a little bit sweet and light. I’ve slightly changed this recipe from The New Best Recipe, by ATK.

Maple Oat Scones

1 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1/4 c. whole milk
1/4 c. sour cream or cream
1 egg
3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour or spelt flour (or just use all-purpose if you want)
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. table salt
10 T. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 c. additional dried fruit or nut, if desired (apricots, raisins, currants, pecans)

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread the oats on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven for about 7-9 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, but reserve 2 T. for rolling the dough out (if doing). Increase oven to 450 degrees. [If you’re in a time crunch, don’t worry about this. It makes the flavor of the oats nuttier, but it’s not necessary.]

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Whisk milk, sour cream, egg, and maple syrup together in a measuring cup.

4. Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. [Or do this step by hand using a pastry blender, or even your fingers!]

5. Transfer the flour mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the cooled oats. Then, with a spatula, fold in 3/4 of the liquid ingredients. Gently the dough by hand until everything comes together, adding more liquid as needed to not have any dry bits at the bottom of the bowl.

6. Dust the work surface with a tablespoon of the reserved oats. Add the dough. Then dust the top with the remaining one tablespoon of oats. Pat into a 7-inch circle about one inch thick. Using a bench scraper cut dough into eight wedges. Set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Or, use a tablespoon scoop, and simply scoop the scones onto the sheet, flattening a bit for a wider shape.

6.  Bake for about 12-14 minutes. Let cool, and if desired, make a simple glaze of 3 T. maple and 1/3 c. powdered sugar to drizzle over the top.

Chocolate Pecan Grahams


Chocolate GrahamsOn Mondays, I’ve been trying to bake something that I can use all week as a healthy-ish and filling after school snack, pairing it with cut fruit or vegetables or the like. So, I baked these this last Monday, I even baked a double batch, hoping I would have enough to last through the week. Well, we had enough to last through early-morning munchies on Tuesday. So, the bad news was I had to bake a new after school snack on Tuesday (which actually isn’t bad news to me! I have two new cookbooks I’m trying to bake through: Bouchon Bakery–which will take me a few years–and Payany’s Better Made at Home. So delightful!), and the good news was that we have another winner for after school snacks! I’ve adapted this recipe from one on King Arthur Flour (I’ve reduced the sugar and added pecans. The full sugar amount is delicious, but tastes more like a flat brownie than a cracker. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Just wanting a little less sugar before dinner).

Note: these grahams are quite crumbly out of the oven, but firm up within an hour of cooling. Also, I scored them before they went into the oven, and then again right out of the oven. And thanks to Bouchon, I now want a bicycle for scoring. I think that’s what he calls it. Anyway. Big dreams. Another note: my kids had no idea these grahams had pecans in them (Lucie just reading over my shoulder commented on this!). Now, that’s success.

Chocolate Pecan Grahams

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c.  whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 c. pecans, finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor till finely chopped
1/2 c. (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
3-4 T.  honey (I like more, plus I needed it for moisture)
2 T. cold milk
2 T. granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Cut out two sheets of parchment as large as your cookie sheets.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder. With a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour mixture until evenly crumbly. In a separate bowl, combine the honey and milk, stirring until the honey dissolves. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and toss lightly with a fork until the dough comes together. Add additional milk, if necessary.

[Alternately, place the dry ingredients in a food processor, pulse 5 times, add the pecans, pulse 2-3 times. Then, add the butter, and pulse until mixture looks like sand, then add the wet ingredients and pulse until the mixture comes together, adding more milk or honey if needed. ]

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and fold it over gently 10 to 12 times, until smooth. Divide the dough in half. Work with half the dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered.

Transfer one piece of dough to a piece of parchment. Roll it into a rectangle a bit larger than 10 x 14 inches; the dough will be about 1/16-inch thick. Trim the edges and prick the dough evenly with a dough docker or fork. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar. Repeat with the remaining dough and parchment. Place the rolled-out dough pieces, on their parchment, onto baking sheets.

Bake the crackers for 15 minutes, or until you begin to smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and immediately cut them into rectangles with a pizza wheel or knife. Transfer them to a rack to cool. Store the cooled crackers tightly wrapped. Yield: thirty-two 3 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch crackers.

Best Granola Bars I’ve Ever Had/Made

Puffed Rice Bars

Well, I’m sure almost anyone who has googled “energy bar recipe” like I did has seen this bar, since it comes from the first hit, but it’s time for me to publish how much I like them! After making them the first time, I went to the store the next morning to buy all the ingredients to make them again, in case my kids finished them off after school. They are so good, I’m a little embarrassed I’ve ever purchased a granola bar. And though I’m sure I’ll buy granola bars again, I will always wish I had taken time to make these instead. Soooo good. So Good. This recipe comes from beardandbonnet.com, but I’ve altered it a bit for our taste.

Sweet Pine Nut and Puffed Rice Bars

  • 1 c. pecans, chopped
  • 1 c. oats
  • ⅓ c. pine nuts
  • ¼ c. flax seeds
  • ⅔ c. light brown sugar
  • ½ c. honey
  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ t. salt
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 4 c. puffed brown rice cereal (also could mix in puffed Kamut or Millet)
  • 1/4 c. water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the pecans, oats, pine nuts, and flax seeds on the sheet and bake about 8 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the sugar, honey, butter, water, and salt to a boil over medium heat, making sure that the sugar dissolves before the mixture boils. Simmer until a light brown caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the caramel over the nut and oat mixture. Stir in the brown rice cereal until evenly coated.
  4. Line an 11×17 inch baking pan with parchment paper, extend the paper over the sides of the pan to use as a handle later. Pour the cereal mixture into the baking dish and spread out into an even layer. Cover the pan with a second piece of parchment and press down to compress the bars. Let the mixture stand for about 2 hours until firm.
  5. Discard the top piece of parchment and use the “handles” from the second piece of parchment to gently remove the cereal square from the pan then cut into bars and serve.