German Plum Cobbler

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I always want to buy plums in the market, but honestly have never enjoyed eating a plum by itself that much. Cobblers are summer’s way of saying “I love you” to fresh fruit – all kinds of fresh fruit.

While the word “kuchen” means cake in german, I found this recipe to be so reminiscent of a summer cobbler. There is no better way to eat cobbler than with vanilla ice cream melting slowly over the top!

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GERMAN PLUM COBBLER

Adapted From Cooking Light’s Plum Kuchen, July 2011

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2/3 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar, divided

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

3/8 Teaspoon Salt, divided

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon, divided

1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger

1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg

7 Tablespoons Butter, divided

1/2 Cup Milk

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Large Egg

1/2 Pound Black Plums (about 6 medium) or any variety of plums, pitted and quartered

1 Teaspoon Grated Lemon Rind

PREPARATION

Preheat Oven to 425°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, 1/4 Teaspoon Salt, and Spices (1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg) in a medium bowl. Using two knives or a pastry blender, cut in 4 Tablespoons Butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Whisk together Milk, Vanilla, and Egg in a bowl. Add milk mixure to flour mixture, and stir until just comvined.

Spoon batter into a 9-inch square metal cake pan coated with butter using a butter wrapper or cooking spray. Arrange plums in a linear pattern over batter.

Combine remaining 2/3 Cups Granulated Sugar, remaining 1/8 Teaspoon Salt, and 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt remaining 3 Tablespoons Butter. Stir into sugar mixture. Sprinkle plums evenly with sugar mixture.

Bake at 425° for 35 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Serve for dessert, warm with vanilla ice cream or as a breakfast cake.

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Lemon Basil Granita and Frozen Raspberry Lemonade

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A name says a lot for a recipe. This is why I am giving you two names for something that could easily be two flavors of the exact same thing…

I shied away from making “granitas” and I can’t pinpoint exactly why. Once I finally tried it, I was telling everyone how easy it was and was proud of how elegant it could be. Dress it up, or dress it down; that’s my reasoning for giving these two variations on a fruity, refreshing summer treat different titles.

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These two delicious refreshers begin with the same bunch of lemons and their tart juices mixed with a simple syrup. Once combined into a modified lemonade, you can take the flavors in different directions. Here’s how:

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LEMON BASIL GRANITA

INGREDIENTS

For the lemonade base:

3/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (from 5-6 lemons)

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup Water

1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

——-

1 Cup Lemonade Base

1 Teaspoon Chopped Fresh Basil

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Sliced Lemon for Garnish

PREPARATION

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine water and sugar. Bring to just under a boil, stir to dissolve sugar, and cool.

Stir in Lemon Zest.

Divide Lemonade Base into equal parts (approximately 1 cup each). Reserve one for Frozen Raspberry Lemonade  and pour remainder into a small, freezer-safe pan.

Sprinkle Basil into lemon mixture and stir to combine. Place pan into freezer. After 3 hours, use a fork to scrape granules of the lemon mixture. Allow to freeze for another 3 hours. Scrape again.

Spoon into a glass or bowl and garnish with sliced lemon and fresh basil.

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FROZEN RASPBERRY LEMONADE

INGREDIENTS

For the lemonade base:

3/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (from 5-6 lemons)

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup Water

1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

——-

1 Cup Lemonade Base

1/4 Cup Fresh Raspberries

1/4 Cup Sugar

1 Tablespoon Water

Sliced Lemon and 2 or 3 Fresh Raspberries for Garnish

PREPARATION

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In a saucepan over medium heat, combine raspberries, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring, then remove from heat and cool.

Pour 1 Cup Lemonade Base (For Lemonade Base preparation, See Lemon Basil Granita Recipe) into a shallow pan. Place into freezer for 3 hours.

Remove pan from freezer and gently stir in Raspberry mixture to form a swirl. (…no, I did not make this happen for my pictures, but I believe it can happen. If not, they are pretty when pink…)

Return to freezer for another 3 hours. Scrape into granules with a fork.

Spoon into a glass or bowl and garnish with sliced lemon and fresh raspberries.

These are so refreshing. Tart, yes. I like them that way. If you feel like you might want a little less zing, omit the lemon zest from your lemonade base.

This recipe makes about a cup of each flavor, which could work into two servings for both. Of course, if you’re feeling like serving up raspberry goodness on a fine summer day, double the raspberry sauce and go all raspberry, by all means…serve them in glass stemware and call them granitas to be fancy! ..Or don’t.

It’s all about the name and how you dress it, right?


Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

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Just because we are eating on a budget doesn’t mean we can actually live without dessert. I know, I tried. That’s why this cake is a perfectly simple, delicious way to stretch dessert.

America’s Test Kitchen has always been my go-to for the best of anything recipe. I took this Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake of theirs I had stashed away in my recipes folder and split it into two loaf pans. That way, we worked our way through one loaf slowly while we froze the other for the next time the craving hits for the most moist,rich,chocolatey cake that doesn’t overwhelm after a simple meal.

You could fancy this up, of course; add raspberries and whipped cream on top or dollop it with our espresso whipped cream for an elegant touch. This doesn’t have to be a simple, weekday sweet, but it certainly does a good job as such.

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CHOCOLATE SOUR CREAM CAKE

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

INGREDIENTS

For the Pan:

1 Tablespoon Butter, Melted

1 Tablespoon Cocoa

For the Cake:

3/4 Cup Natural Baking Cocoa Powder

6 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder

3/4 Cup Boiling Water

1 Cup Sour Cream, room temp.

1 3/4 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

12 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (1 1/2 Sticks), room temp.

2 Cups Packed Light Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

5 Large Eggs, room temp.

Whipped cream or confectioner’s sugar to top*

*optional

PREPARATION

Stir together melted butter and cocoa in a small bowl to form a paste. Use a pastry brush to coat the inside of two standard loaf pans (or one bundt pan). Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°.

Combine Cocoa, chocolate, and espresso powder in heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temp. Whisk in sour cream.

In a second bowl, whisk flour, salt, and baking soda to combine.

Using a mixer, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on med-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. reduce speed to med. and add eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after each. Reduce to med-low speed and add about one third of the dry ingredient mixture and half of chocolate/sour cream mixture and stir until just incorporated. Scrape bowl and repeat twice, dividing the dry ingredient mixture in half. Mix until batter is thoroughly combined.

Pour into prepared pans and bake until toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs attached, 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert to cooling rack and cool completely.


Summer Raspberry Cream Cake

         Summer Raspberry Cream Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing – Yes please!

Cake and plate

When my friend invited me to watch her put together her summer time cake and take the recipe with me for my blog I was really excited.  Heather is a stay at home mama with three in her brood. She also has a wonderful story of childhood that helps one understand why Heather cares so much about preparing natural, wholesome, and delicious foods, from scratch.  Heather was raised in Papua New Guinea, in a tribal village. Her parents were missionaries and she was there between the ages of 2 and 11. Heather watched closely as her Mom grew and prepared everything by hand. She learned skills as well as a philosophy on preparing food that she carries with her today. She cares very much about the origin of the products she buys and makes efforts to use local and natural ingredients. Heather makes foods like yogurt, jams, and breads. She has a vegetable garden, she enjoys knitting beautiful accessories for her little girls, and she loves to bake. She invited me over to watch her put together this summer time cake; as well as enjoy a piece with a lovely cup of Earl Grey Tea. I highly recommend trying this combination – it is so delicious. Thanks for sharing this, Heather.

Just a couple of things about the recipe I should mention is that in developing these recipes, Heather was trying to achieve a creamier frosting with less powdered sugar – as many recipes call for – so after years of altering her favorite recipes Heather has reduced the butter and created a lighter meringue to incorporate into the icing and therefore was also able to reduce the amount of sugar. She also chose recipes based on the number of egg yolk vs. egg whites for the frosting so there would be no waste.  So together, these recipes for cake, filling and icing will produce a creamy, light and fluffy, perfectly sweetened cake. Some things you will need: electric mixer, two  9 inch cake pans, long bread knife, food thermometer, and a cooling rack.

INGREDIENTS for YElLOW CAKE

3 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter room temp

1 1/2 cup sugar

4 lg egg yolks + 1 egg – separate and reserve 4 whites for the icing

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

PREPARATION for YELLOW CAKE

1.  Heat oven to 350°, place to racks in the center of oven. grease two 9 inch cake pans with butter. Dust with flour. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, gradually add sugar. Keep beating until light and fluffy – 3 minutes. Drizzle in egg yolks,beating on med – low until fluffy.

3. Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream to butter mixture, ending with flour mix. Beat in vanilla, divide between pans. Bake 30 – 40 minutes – until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 min then remove from pan, cool on wire racks.  Score the cakes before slicing – this will help you slice it through the center. Please click here to see Heather’s demonstration. Split layers horizontally using a bread knife. Set aside the prettiest dome for the top. Assemble. Refrigerate if necessary (due to the whip cream filling it is best to keep this cake in a cool place).

 INGREDIENTS for RASPBERRY and CREAM FILLING

  12 – 14 oz of raspberry jam

1 1/2 cup whipping cream – will yield about 4 cups

1 1/2 tablespoon of powdered sugar

PREPARATION for RASPBERRY and CREAM FILLING

1. Whip cream, adding the powdered sugar during the whipping process.

2. This filling will be divided among the three layers.  Spread the jam over the top of your bottom layer, then spread your whip cream over the jam, leaving a 1 inch border. Place the next layer of cake and gently press from the center of the cake to help distribute the cream.  However, do not over do it, the weight of the cake will spread the cream to the edge of the layer as the cake settles.

 INGREDIENTS for SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM ICING

4 lg egg whites

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

2 sticks butter unsalted

PREPARATION for SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM ICING

1. Combine egg whites, water, cream of tartar and sugar in a bowl. Set bowl in skillet with simmering water. Beat on low until whites reach 140°. Beat on high until 160°. 2-4 min. Remove bowl from heat add 1 tsp vanilla. Beat on high 3 – 5 min to cool and until meringue holds glossy stiff peaks.

2. In a separate bowl beat unsalted butter to cream. Fold large dollop of meringue into batter.  Continue to fold in meringue in stages.

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Fresh Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie Slice

We did it again.  We took advantage of the sweet, innocent, juiciest berry of the month!  MC made this pie the other night and it is simply irresistible!  I really did not feel I got my fair share because my daughter had to have bites of mine after wolfing down her own adult-sized piece. So, it is with pleasure that we recreate this seasonal delicacy, even larger than before, so that no one walks away wanting more.

We used a tart dish and increased the recipe by an additional 50% – a good idea if you have a lot of mouths to feed or just because you want to.  Enjoy!
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FRESH STRAWBERRY PIE

Adapted from Betty Crocker Kitchens

INGREDIENTS

For the Pie Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsweetened butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
For the Filling:
1 ½ Quarts Strawberries (about 6 cups), hulled
1 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
½ Cup Water
1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon grated Lemon Zest

PREPARATION

1. In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in butter, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
2. Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. If your refrigerate for longer, let it soften before rolling.
3. Heat oven to 475°F. Roll out your pie dough into a ¼ inch-thick circle. Gently place into pie plate, trim extra from sides, fold dough under and flute as desired. Prick bottom and side of pastry thoroughly with fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool on cooling rack.
4. In small bowl, mash enough strawberries to measure 1 cup. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup water and mashed strawberries (add 1 or 2 drops food color if deeper red color is desired). Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute; cool.
5. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and lemon peel until smooth. Spread evenly in pie crust. Top with remaining strawberries. Pour cooked strawberry mixture over top. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.