Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Mennonite Apple Crumble

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My mother sent me this recipe some time ago, but I never got around to trying it.  It is similar to Apple Crisp, but sweeter. My family loved this dessert.  It is especially good served warm with ice cream of whipped cream.  Best of all, it is really easy to prepare.  I think next time I will increase the apples to 7 or 8 granny smith apples from the 5 I used this time.

Here is the recipe:

Mennonite Apple Crumble

Serves 5  |  adapted from an old Mennonite Recipe Book

Crumble topping:

  • 3/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Apple filling:

  • 5-8 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions:

Melt the butter.  In a small bowl, combine the oatmeal, sugar, baking soda and stir.  Add the melted butter and stir into the oatmeal mixture.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt and stir to combine.  Add the apple pieces and stir to coat with the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Evenly spread the apple mixture in a greased baking dish (spray with Pam).  Top the apples with the oatmeal topping and gently press the crumble over the apples.

Bake at 375 F for 35 to 40 minutes.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Peach Crisp

IMG_9865When I think of summer, I think of peaches.. there are few things in the world that are as good as the peaches I have eaten in South Jersey – juicy, drippy, goodness.  Well, I am in Southern California, and bought some peaches that were begging to be used up.  I found this recipe for Peach Crisp in my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.  Unfortunately, I did not have as many peaches as the recipe called for, because two of them had gone bad, but I used what I had: 4 large peaches. Reading over the ingredients, I found I had everything except for lemon zest to make this dish, so make it I did. And yummy it was.

Peach Crisp

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook (15th Anniversary Edition page 804)

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 3 lbs of peaches, peeled, pitted and cut up into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional

Crumble Topping:

  • 6 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Place the peach pieces in a pie dish. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Stir with a fork.  Add the pieces of butter and work with your hands to combine them into a crumb like topping. Stir in the pecan pieces.

Spread the crumb topping across the top of the peach filling.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.  Cook an additional 5 minutes at 400 if the topping is not browned.

Serve warm.  Great with ice cream of whipped cream.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

IMG_8349My husband loves Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.  I recently made one in my cast iron skillet and it turned out great (other than the fact that I used a 12 inch skillet instead of a 10 inch the recipe called for, but it was still delicious – I had to reduce the cooking time as a result. ) I will be getting a 10 inch cast iron skillet soon, so I can make this correctly.  The recipe is from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion it is a real treasury for baking that I really recommend.  I have made a few recipes from this book and the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is a keeper as well. (Amazon: The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion)

I overdid it on Maraschino cherries.. but my family says there is no such thing!  I also omitted the nuts, but I will leave them in the recipe so you can decide if you want it in yours.  My husband said it was like the cake he remembers having as a child.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

adapted from King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion p 376

Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 (16 oz) can pineapple rings, drained (juice reserved)
  • 12 to 16 maraschino cherries (or more … like the whole jar! minus the two you ate)
  • 16-20 pecan or walnut halves, optional
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup reserved pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet (though I used a 12 inch and it turned out okay too… just reduced the cooking time, but the cake was very thin).  Sprinkle the dark brown sugar into the melted butter and place the pineapple on top.  Arrange the maraschino cherries inside the pineapple rings and additional gaps.  If you are also using nuts, place those in the gaps in addition to the cherries.

In a medium bowl, soft the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.  Combine the pineapple juice and vanilla and set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat the eggs until they have thickened and are light in color.  Sprinkle in the sugar with the mixer running.  Add the pineapple juice mixture and slow the mixer down as you add the flour mixture to the batter gradually.  Mix at medium speed for about 1 minute.

Pour the batter over your pineapple rings and cherries.  Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until the center is springy to the touch and the cake is pulling away from the sides of your cast iron skillet.  Remove it from the oven.  Then place a serving platter upside down on the skillet and carefully (with oven mitts!) invert the pan over the platter- allow the pan to stay over the cake for about 5 minutes or longer so that the sugar drips back down onto the cake.  The cake should have loosened enough from the pan to easily transfer to the plate leaving the beautiful pineapple rings exposed.  Slice into 10 wedges and serve.

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Authentic Black Forest Cherry Cake

IMG_6893This is one recipe that has been on my “cooking bucket list” for years.  My Mom would make this cake for special occasions, and unusual ones too!  I think my all time favorite memory was the time I was returning to go to Bible School in England after having spent Christmas with my parents in NJ.  My flight was out of  John F Kennedy Airport in NY and my Aunt and Uncle who lived in Long Island at the time met up with us… on a day when  there had been a snow storm and all the flights  were delayed.  So here we were in the terminal of the airport eating Black Forest Cherry Cake and having a mini family reunion with jealous passengers looking on in curiosity!  Great memory!  My High School was located in Kandern, Germany and we sometimes were able to sample the cherries that grew in the Black Forest region.  I have fond memories of Europe and still love to eat the foods in that region. The German name for this torte is Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.

I invited my friend Lori to learn to make this cake too.  I cook much more than I bake.  Baking is exact science and I have to wait for layers to cool before taking the next step and I am often about instant gratification!  Well, we had fun.  The cake was not perfect, but it was delicious!  This dessert is not overly sweet – I think we American’s use way too much sugar in our desserts.  It took us 3 hours start to finish, so it is not a cake you can just pull out of the hat for an event.  Plan ahead!  It really is best if you refrigerate the cake for 24 hours before cutting into it.  The layers will be well refined and the flavors of the kirschwasser will have worked its magic as well.  I did not have the patience to wait even an hour after making it, but had some left over the next day, so I really do have to say the 24 hours makes a lot of difference in the flavor and texture.

The layers consist of an almost cookie crust chocolate layer as the base, then cherries and whipped cream, then at least two (or if you are great at slicing 3)  layers of  chocolate sponge cake which are separated by more cherries and whipped cream. The entire cake is then  covered with more whipped cream that has gelatin as a thickener and topped with cherries and sprinkled with milk chocolate shavings.

My cherries spilled out of the layers and onto the base of the cake, so when I covered the cake with the coating of whipped cream the cream turned pink in color but it was still beautiful to look at.  When I encounter errors like this, I rename it rustic and it is all good!  Perfection is for the 4th time I make this! 😉  I used a 9 inch spring form pan to bake my cake, my friend Lori used a 10 inch. They both turned out great, but mine was a little taller and actually works a little better for this torte.  Though the original recipe called for a 10 inch.. use what you have.

Cherry Filling:

Image 4-12-14 at 4.10 PMI found Morello Cherries at Trader Joes (24 oz).  They are a product of Germany and are sweet with just a hint of tart. It is with light syrup and needed to be thickened.  I added 3 ounces of Kirschwasser (if you really cannot find any, use Rum).  To thicken, I combined 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water and added them to my pan with the cherries and kirschwasser.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 30 seconds to a minute longer and the mixture has thickened.  Then transfer to a bowl and cool completely.  Before you use the cherry filling in the layers pull out 10-20 cherries to decorate the top of your torte.

You could use a cherry pie filling, but I find them to be overly sweet.

 

Bottom Chocolate Crust

Image 4-12-14 at 4.31 PMPreheat oven to 375°F.

Combine the dry ingredients and whisk them together: 3/4 cup flour, 2 Tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking powder.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/3 cup sugar.

Combine the two mixtures together and make a thick dough.

Line a 9 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper. And press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Poke the dough with a fork and then bake for 15 minutes.

After it baked, allow it to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing it from the spring-form pan.  Carefully transfer to your plate. It may crack, but it will be okay. Be as careful as possible.

Here  is a picture of my baked crust:

IMG_6867 I allowed this to cool completely while I made the sponge cake layers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 4-12-14 at 5.04 PMFor the Sponge Cake Layers:

Combine 4 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons warm water, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Beat with an electric mixer until the egg yolks are pale.

Sift together dry ingredients: 2/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup cornstarch, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

Whip the 4 egg whites with 1/3 cup of sugar until it is stiff.

First add the flour mixture to the egg yolks and combine and then fold the egg whites into the batter using a rubber spatula, about half the egg whites first and then the remaining half of the whipped egg whites after it is fairly well combined.

 

Image 4-12-14 at 5.21 PMPrepare the spring-form pan for the sponge cake by inserting parchment paper both on the bottom and the sides of the pan. I find that butter keeps it in place nicely and since it is outside the paper does not affect the cake any.

Pour the sponge cake batter in and spread it evenly in the pan.

Bake at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing it to a separate plate.  Once it cools completely, cut it horizontally into two layers. Try to cut them as evenly as possible.

For the Whipped Cream: Beat 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream with 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  When it is stiff, divide the whipped cream into two batches.  Use one half for the filling and the second half will be used for the topping, but is thickened with gelatin for extra stability.

1 1/2 packets of Knox Gelatin is combined with 2 tablespoons of water and brought to a boil and then cooled slightly and whipped into the second batch of whipped cream.

Now for the fun stuff: the assembly of your Black Forest Cherry cake.

Image 4-12-14 at 5.39 PMTop your cake base with half of the cherries.  Top the cherries with half of the whipped cream (that has not been stabilized with the gelatin).  Top with the bottom disk of the sponge cake and repeat by topping with the remaining half of cherries.  I should have not put as much of the thickened liquid.  It got a little sloppy… but a yummy sloppy, so I am okay with it.. remember if it is not perfect it is rustic!

 

 

 

Image 4-12-14 at 5.43 PMAdd the remaining whipped cream (not stabilized batch). Top with second layer of sponge cake.  Spread the stabilized whipped cream over the top and sides of the assembled cake. Mine should have been whipped just a tad longer, but it still worked okay.

Decorate with a circle of the reserved cherries.

 

 

IMG_6891 Then to finish decorating the torte, use a vegetable peeler and make chocolate curls by “peeling” a bar of milk chocolate over the cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is best to let the cake set up in the refrigerator for a few hours before you slice into it. I am an impatient person though and was so excited to have made the cake that I could not wait to try it though. It turned out beautifully!

And it was as good as my Mom’s rendition too, which is a bonus.. now if only I could conjure up a snow storm and eat it in an airport!

 


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Orange Zest Cookies with Sweet Orange Glaze

IMG_6803I meant to blog this recipe last year.. wait, now two years ago.  I made them for the first time 2012 for Christmas and they reminded me of cookies my Mom used to make.  I made them again this past Christmas, but they would be good any time of year of course.  I found this recipe through Pinterest.. it linked to Stephanie’s Kitchen.  This cookie has become a favorite of ours.  I did increase the zest in the cookies to 3 Tablespoons from 2 to up the flavor even more.  I find the cookies best if they are fresh – keep them in a zip-lock bag to keep them from drying out too much or keep some in the freezer.  If your family is a lot like ours they will not last long.

Orange Zested Cookies w/ Sweet Orange Glaze

makes about 2-3 dozen (depending on the size)

adapted from Stephanie’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 egg

For the glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • fresh orange juice

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest.  Stir together and let sit for a few minutes, allowing the sugar to absorb some of the oils in the orange zest.
  3. In your Kitchen Aid mixing bowl, cream the butter and the zest infused sugar.  Add the egg and orange juice and cream until combined.  Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until all the flour is mixed in, but do not over mix.
  4. Place the dough in a bag and refrigerate for 1 hour or even overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Roll the cookie dough into small 1/2 inch size balls and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes.  Cool the cookies on wire racks.
  6. Make the orange glaze: Combine the powdered sugar and orange zest.  Add just enough orange juice to make the glaze smooth and creamy.  Glaze the cookies and allow the glaze to dry.

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Bauernkrapfen

IMG_3110No, I did not choke.. that is the word for this delightfully wonderful fried pastry that I ate growing up in Austria.  “Bauernkrapfen” is a rustic version of a doughnut, with less sugar than the American equivalent.  Traditionally, it is brushed with Apricot jam and dusted with powdered sugar, but you can use any jam you wish- strawberry or red currant jam would also be very good choices. I woke up this morning thinking about the Bauernkrapfen, so I called my Mom for the recipe she had from the friend who first introduced us to them.  A “Bauer” is the German word for “farmer” – “Krapfen” is the German word for “doughnut” (usually the jelly filled type without a hole in it).  These are easy to make, though a little time consuming, and my kids enjoyed them too, but would have preferred a different type of jam on them.

Bauernkrapfen (Austrian Farmer’s Doughnut)

Yields: 15-20 recipe translated from German into English – it is an authentic recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz milk
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 yeast packets
  • 3 cups all purpose flour (400 grams)

Additional ingredients:

  • Apricot jam (or strawberry or red currant)
  • powdered sugar

Instructions:

Pour milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until it is steaming.  Turn off the heat and add the butter and allow it to melt in the milk, stirring a few times.  Allow to cool 5 minutes.  Pour the milk into a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugar to the milk mixture and stir to dissolve.  Allow to cool to lukewarm temperature (100-110)  Add the yeast and egg yolks.  Stir to combine.  Add the flour about a cup of it at a time, stirring to incorporate it to a dough.  Add a little more flour if it is sticking to the bowl, just enough to get it to release (I only had to add another tablespoon of flour, but it may vary depending on the size of the egg yolks you used).  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at least 1 hour.  Form the dough into 15-20 balls, roll each ball in a little flour and cover with a tea towel and allow to rest 30 minutes.

Stretch each ball a little, similarly as you would pizza dough, a thin layer of dough in the center and a rim slightly thicker on outside.

Heat 3/4 inch- 1 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot, carefully add 4-5 of the doughnuts to the oil and fry to a golden brown color on each side (this takes about 30-45 seconds per side).  Remove the doughnuts to a cookie rack to drain Tip:  I place my rack upside down on a cookie sheet that I have lined with paper towels, this allows the excess oil to be pulled away from your doughnut and keeps it from becoming soggy.

Heat the desired jam in a saucepan until it is slightly runny and warm.  Glaze the tops of the doughnuts with the warmed jam using a pastry brush.  Sprinkle a dusting of powdered sugar over the tops of the jam and doughnut.  Best still served warm, but tastes okay at room temperature as well.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I remember having rhubarb from time to time as a child, but never made any in my near 20 years of marriage.  My husband in fact, never had any rhubarb that he can remember!  This, I had to correct!  My Mom sent me a recipe for a strawberry rhubarb pie that was easy to make — and I found out also equally delicious!  I used a pre-made pie crust from the grocer’s refrigerated section.  This makes the process for pie making even easier! The original recipe called for 1 1/4 cups sugar.  I reduced it to 1 cup, but next time will only use 3/4 of a cup of sugar.  The only unusual ingredient is Minute Tapioca.  This serves as a thickening agent.

Mom’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

2 pie crusts (I used Pillsbury pre-made pie crusts)

Filling:

  • 2 cups rhubarb, roughly diced
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced

Combine following ingredients then combine with the fruit:

  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (originally 1  1/4c)
  • 2 Tbsp minute tapioca
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp butter (to dot the top of the fruit before topping with second pie crust)

Prepare the pie pan with the first crust.  Combine sugar, tapioca, salt, and cinnamon and mix with the chopped rhubarb and strawberries.  Toss to combine.  Fill the pie with the filling.  Dot the tops with little pieces of butter.  Cut the top crust with slits to vent.  Top the pie and seal the edges.
Bake pie at 400F for 40-45 minutes.  Allow the pie to cool before slicing. (If you cannot wait, it is still good, but may be runny).

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