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Tag Archives: berries

Berry Almond Breakfast Cake

9 Aug

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This cake is a doozy. I know that it may seem rather bold of me to begin diving right into the accolades here—jeez, lady, tell us how you really feel—but there is little more that I can say about this cake than this: it is perfect

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This is the cake that I want in my sticky little hands when I think of coffee cake. This is the cake that I want to see in front of me when I imagine a streusel-topped, berry-filled breakfast treat. This is exactly the type of cake that will make almond-phobes (no, really—those actually exist) do a complete 180 and finally come around to the realization that almond cakes are a delightful, delectable thing to behold.

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Not surprisingly, this cake recipe hails from the great repertoire of Tartine, the bakery that satisfies all of my bakery dreams and needs. (What? You don’t have bakery dreams and needs? Surely, I can’t be the only one who…okay, never mind—maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that) With a light almond flavor, a perfect, buttery crumb topping, and an almost hidden layer of berries baked into delicious secrecy inside, I can’t think of another coffee cake I’ve had that checks off all the delightful, delectable boxes that this one does.

And now I am going to stop talking, because you need to drop what you are doing and make this cake right now.

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Last Year: Niçoise Cobb Salad, Homemade Lemonade and Limeade and White Bean and Tomato Bruschetta

Berry Almond Breakfast Cake

Adapted from Tartine, by Elizabeth Prueitt

Crumble topping:

½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, slightly firmer than room temperature

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 ½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup (3 ounces) almond meal or finely ground almonds

1/3 cup (about 2 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar

pinch of salt

Cake:

6 ounces of almond paste, or make your own almond paste by combining about ¾ of a cup (4 ounces) of blanched almonds with ½ cup (2 ounces) of powdered sugar and blending together in a food processor until the mixture becomes very fine and just starts to clump together

¾ cup (about 5 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar

¾ cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons (7 ½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 large eggs, at room temperature

½ pint (about 5 ½ ounces) fresh berries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.

To make the crumble topping, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on high speed until creamy. Add flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt and mix only until all of the ingredients are incorporated. You do not want a smooth mixture; it should still have a crumble appearance. If you overmix it, cover it and chill it for  about 1 hour, and then break it into crumble-sized pieces. Place the topping aside.

To make the cake, place the almond paste (or your own almond and confectioners’ sugar mixture) in the large bowl of the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until the paste is broken up. Add the granulated sugar and gradually increase the speed to medium. Continue to mix until there are no lumps. Add the butter and mix until creamy, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and eggs all at once, then increase the speed to medium and mix just until everything is combined. Do not overmix.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Top with berries, distributing it evenly over the surface, and then add the crumble topping, scattering it evenly over the top of the berries. (At this point you can cover the assembled cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. The next morning, remove the cake from the refrigerator and leave it out at room temperature for about 45 minutes before baking.)

Bake the cake until the crumble topping is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into a non-fruity part of the cake reveals a completely cooked, non-runny cake. Tartine’s cookbook says that this will take 40 minutes to accomplish, but my cake was not done until it had baked for 60 to 70 minutes (at 40 minutes the batter was still incredibly runny). My advice to you is to check the cake at 40 minutes, then, if it’s not done, continue to bake it, checking on it every 10 minutes or so to gauge its doneness.

Let the cake cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve the cake directly from the pan. You will not be able to reliably remove it without completely destroying the cake.

Serves 8 to 12 people.

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Red, White, and Blue Berry Parfaits

27 Jun

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Not generally being one who goes in for themed or color-coordinated desserts (I like to plan my dessert-eating around taste rather than appearance), it can’t be denied that a fresh pile of red and blue berries, situated against a backdrop of pale cream, is certainly a nice way to celebrate the 4th of July. The fact that the best summer berries around here tend to ripen just around the beginning of July seems almost fortuitous, if not obvious. But, with such gorgeous piles of raspberries and blueberries haunting me at the market, how could I not make a red, white, and blue treat in anticipation of the 4th?

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These little parfaits are a perfect combination of creamy, citrus-tinted coolness, juicy berries, and a fantastic hit of barely sweetened crunch (and by barely sweetened, we’re talking only around 2 tablespoons of added sugar, total). When I dreamed them up, I had visions of a simple treat that could be carted out post-picnic feast, or easily highlight a night of fireworks-viewing. Since everything but the assembly of these fine fellows can be completed ahead of time, they are a perfect make-ahead treat. They are great for a crowd, and you can even set out the individual components of the dessert, give each of your guests a small glass or bowl, and let each person assemble their own parfait. Then all you need to do is grab yourself a blanket, settle in under the stars, and wait for the celebratory fireworks to start.

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Last Year: Semolina Flatbread with Arugula, Mint, and Spinach Pesto (this is perfect for picnics) and Sour Cherry Upside Down Cake (this is perfect for…everything)

Red, White, and Blue Berry Parfaits

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon white sugar

pinch sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

¼ cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used almonds and pecans)

1 cup cold heavy cream

½ teaspoon powdered sugar

drop of pure vanilla extract

¼ cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon lemon zest (or orange zest)

2 to 3 cups blueberries and raspberries (or other berries of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine flour, dark brown sugar, white sugar, and salt. Add the vanilla and butter and, using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is uniformly incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs that form clumps when pressed together. Stir in the chopped nuts.

Using your hands, press the crumbly dough into a rough ball or mound. Then, using your fingers, pinch off ½-inch pieces of dough and place them on the prepared baking sheet. If some of the pieces fall apart or happen to be larger or smaller than ½-inch, don’t worry. The dessert police will not come knocking on your door.

Place the pieces of dough on the middle shelf of your preheated oven. Bake the pieces for 17 to 20 minutes, until the edges of the pieces are dark golden and your kitchen smells like cookies. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Using an electric beater or, if you have forearms like Lou Ferrigno, a wire whisk, beat the cream until it barely begins to thicken and hold super soft peaks. Add in the softened mascarpone and lemon zest, and beat for just a few seconds, until the mixture holds soft peaks, but is still quite creamy and light.

To assemble parfaits, drop a few berries into the bottom of a small glass, then add a few pieces of crumble (crumbling them even further, if you wish), then dollop on a spoonful or two of mascarpone cream. Repeat layers once more, then top each parfait with a berry or two.

I used 8-ounce glasses for the pictured parfaits, and I was able to make about 8 parfaits, with a bit of crumble left over. You can, of course, easily double this recipe and make twice the parfaits, to feed a whole crowd of revelers.

Quick and Easy Citrus Crepes with Berry Sauce

6 May

While I am no stranger to the concept of tackling a recipe that may require what seems to some people a ridiculous or unreasonable amount of wait time (although I will defend to the death the argument that granola really does taste best when baked at a low heat for two hours, and that the flavor of bread really does rocket to a whole new level of tasty when started with a sponge), there are times when even I look at a recipe and think, “You want me to set this batter aside for 6 hours before I use it?  Are you kidding me?”

Such was my reaction when trying to hunt down a simple and satisfying recipe for crepes one weekend morning.  Logic may dictate that the more intelligent thing to do would have been to look for an appropriate recipe the evening before (when resting crepe batter in the fridge coincides with resting yourself in bed), but, and I am sure I am not alone when I say this, I didn’t know I wanted crepes for breakfast when I went to bed.  Since, however, I certainly knew I wanted crepes for breakfast right then, I quickly hit our cookbook shelves and started the process of rapidly finding and rejecting recipes.

Alice Waters wanted me to add beer to my batter and let it rest overnight.  Deborah Madison wanted the batter to rest for at least two hours.  Another recipe chided the reader to never—EVER—make a crepe with regular flour, because only buckwheat flour would produce a worthy and authentic crepe.  All of the recipes implored the potential crepe-maker to cook their crepes in a special crepe pan or, at the very least, in a nonstick skillet, neither of which I happen to own.

That’s right.  No nonstick cookware.  I won’t bore you with the reasons why, but about three or four years ago we retired our last nonstick pan and it’s a decision we’ve never regretted.  We have two cast iron skillets (one of which is enameled) and one stainless steel-clad sauté pan and we have yet to find the need for anything else.  But moving on.

Eventually, my crepe saving grace was found in the pages of Joy of Cooking.  Another admission: I have two copies of Joy of Cooking, one from 1985 and one from 1999.  Why, you ask?  Well, because between the years 1985 and 1999, ideas in cooking underwent a huge change, as they are wont to do in any given 14 year period.  The two version of what are seemingly the same cookbook are fantastically different, and there are recipes in both copies that are unique to those particular editions.  Not surprisingly, the crepe recipe in the 1985 version was decidedly less fussy than the one in the 1999 version so, in the end, that’s where I found the winner.

Which is not to say I didn’t still feel the need to do a bit of tweaking.  The recipe you see below is a super simplified version of the one I eventually decided to use as inspiration.  It produces crepes that are light, delicious, and infinitely adaptable.  We ate the crepes with a simple sauce made from a mix of frozen berries unearthed from our freezer, but I would imagine there is no bad way to dress these fellows up—lemon curd, lightly sweetened mascarpone cheese, unadulterated fresh berries, cinnamon sugar, the list of possibilities is nearly endless.  All that time you won’t spend waiting for your crepe batter to rest, you can instead spend thinking up any number of wonderful ways to fill and dress your next special breakfast, which might perhaps happen to fall this Sunday for a certain lady in your life who goes by the name Mom.

Quick and Easy Citrus Crepes with Berry Sauce

Partially adapted from Joy of Cooking 

Crepes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup milk

1/3 cup water

1/2 to 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange zest

Vegetable oil, for brushing the skillet

Place flour in the bowl of a food processor and pulse half a dozen time to aerate the flour.  Add salt, baking powder, and powdered sugar to the food processor and pulse half a dozen more times to combine.

In a medium bowl, add beaten eggs, milk, water, and lemon zest, and mix to combine.  With the food processor running, slowly pour the milk and egg mixture into the flour mixture.  Allow the mixture to process until combined, about 5 to 10 seconds total.  If you spot a few lumps, don’t worry.  Don’t try to keep processing the batter in order to eliminate all lumps–that will just make the batter tough.

Thoroughly heat a small or medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Lightly brush the pan with a small amount of vegetable oil.  Add a small amount of batter (about 3 tablespoons), pouring it directly from the bowl of the food processor.  Tip the skillet and let the batter spread over the bottom, or use a spoon to very gently coax the batter out into a wide circle.  Cook the crepe until tiny bubbles begin to form and pop on the surface of the crepe.  Flip crepe and cook until underside is lightly browned.

Repeat process with remaining batter, making sure to lightly brush the pan with oil before cooking each crepe.  Crepes can be stacked and set aside, covered lightly with foil, while the whole batch cooks.

Berry Sauce

3 cups mixed berries, fresh or frozen (we used a mixture of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries)

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and place over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the fruit just begins to fall apart, roughly five minutes.  Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until about half of the mixture is blended into a liquid and the other half remains slightly chunky.  If you are not a fan of textured sauce, feel free to puree the sauce until it is completely smooth, or until your desired texture has been reached.

To serve crepes as shown, lightly butter each crepe (we used these orange and mint butters), then fold twice into quarters.  Arrange crepes on a plate and drizzle with berry sauce.

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