Recently we purchased a bag of apples that turned out to be a bit too mealy to eat fresh. Making them into applesauce seemed like the best solution to the problem. One thing for sure, there’s no shortage of ways to make use it it, from an oatmeal stir-in to a pork meat accompaniment.
Baking with applesauce to replace some or all of the fat adds fiber and reduces calories in cakes, muffins and breads. Because of its water content, it will also help keep baked goods moist and fresh longer. Applesauce acts like the fat because it keeps the flour protein from mixing completely with the wet ingredients and forming a rubbery texture. I’ve noticed that sometimes you need to lengthen your baking time a bit when using applesauce.
Over the years there have been countless recipes for various pudding cakes. While baking, the cake portion rises to the top and a creamy pudding-like sauce forms on the bottom. This fall version does not disappoint.
Carrot Pudding Cake
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with baking spray.
Using a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar & spices.
In a medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, milk, melted butter, vanilla & grated carrots. Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into dry ingredients; scrape batter into baking dish.
In a small bowl, whisk together white & brown sugar & either chopped walnuts or whole pepita seeds. Sprinkle over batter. Carefully pour the hot water over the top.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until middle is set. After removing from oven, allow to cool for 10 before serving with ice cream or whipped cream.
Strawberries have been around for more than two thousand years. There are records of strawberries eaten as food as early as ancient Roman times as they probably grew wild in Europe.
Shortcake on the other hand, was a European invention. The ‘short’ in shortcake does not refer to stature or scope. Rather it derived from a 15th century British usage of ‘short’, similar to crumbly.
The true shortcake is neither bread, nor cake, nor pastry, though bearing what might be called a ‘differing likeness’ to each. It’s greatness lies in the contrasts of textures and flavors of simple cake, fruit and cream … hard & soft, moist & dry, sweet & tart, acid & cake. Shortcake proves the ideal base, as it is firm enough to stand up to the juicy berries and damp cream but absorbing only some of them without losing its identity or becoming a mushy mess.
The first strawberry shortcakes were made of heavy pastry that were somewhat similar to pie crust but a little thicker. The crust was baked, then split apart and filled with strawberries that had been mashed and sweetened and the whole thing covered with a sugared frosting. At some point the icing was replaced with whipped cream. Today, the shortcake ‘biscuits’ are sometimes replaced with sponge cake, angel food or even puff pastry.
July seems like the perfect time to indulge in some fresh strawberries!
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. Add butter & work it into flour mixture with your fingers until it resembles coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, egg & 1/2 cup buttermilk. Add to the flour mixture & lightly mix until dough just comes together. Do not OVERMIX.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. With lightly floured hands, gently pat the dough into a 7-inch round about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 8 equal wedges.
Space the shortcakes evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with remaining 1 Tbsp buttermilk & sprinkle with the almonds. Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar & orange zest & juice. Allow to stand until sugar is dissolved & the mixture is syrupy, about 15 minutes.
Split the shortcakes. Place the bottom halves of the shortcakes on serving plates & top evenly with the strawberry mixture & yogurt. Cover with shortcake tops. Serve.
- Instead of cutting your shortcakes into wedges, you could bake them in tart molds for a fancier look.
In a dream world, desserts would be low in calories and fat and eating one cookie wouldn’t tempt us to eat five more.
By now, everyone knows what a molten chocolate cake is (also known as chocolate lava cake). Practically every restaurant has a version of the recipe on its dessert menu. Its basically the richest chocolate cake imaginable, in miniature form. The key is to purposely under bake it so it will reveal the thick, hot fudge-like center that oozes out when you spoon into it.
But, there’s one way to achieve healthier baked goods and that’s to add legumes. Yes, the very same beans that we put in soups, chili, dips and countless savory recipes make surprisingly tasty desserts.
If you’re using beans as a flour substitute, its typically a 1:1 ratio. When it comes to replacing fat ingredients with beans, a little caution is needed. Fats are not only used for flavor but also texture and mouthfeel for dishes. For brownies, you can replace oil with 3/4 as much black bean puree. For cookies, you can replace up to half the butter or shortening with the bean puree. For quick breads and muffins, replace butter or shortening with half as much bean puree. This is only a general guide as other ingredients may need to be altered too. Always good to experiment first.
The end result, of course, with any substitution should not just improve the nutrition content but leave you feeling satisfied and not still craving the decadent variety. We found these black bean lava cakes certainly did that!
Black Bean Lava Cakes
Make flax egg & set aside.
In a food processor, combine black beans, sugar, applesauce, apple cider vinegar & sea salt. Pulse to combine for about 1 minute.
Add rice flour, cocoa powder & flax egg. Process until combined about 30 seconds.
Add baking powder & continue processing for another 30 seconds.
Grease (4) 5-oz. ramekins with oil. Make sure to grease well. Add 1/4 cup batter to each ramekin.
Place a piece of chocolate in center of each & divide remaining batter between the 4 ramekins, spreading evenly.
Place on a baking sheet & bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven & cool for 10 minutes.
Use a knife to loosen edges, then flip ramekins over on to serving plates (they should come loose easily).
If you wish, sprinkle with powdered sugar & serve warm.
A summer twist on classic French madeleines. Not quite cookies and not quite cakes, madeleines are a buttery seashell shaped treat that’s usually flavored with nothing more than a wisp of vanilla. With the addition of some fresh strawberry puree and lemon zest these strawberry madeleines are transformed into something quite special.
Fruit puree is the go-to companion for desserts. Who doesn’t enjoy the taste of fruit, accompanied by the backdrop of something sweet? Its hard to replace the taste of real fruit with fruit flavored extracts.
Fruit purees can be used for a range of different things although baking seems to be one of the most popular. The natural sugar in fruit, alongside the retained flavors, colors and smells help create some really good baked items. Purees can also be frozen to last longer.
Strawberry madeleines are simple and quick to make but special enough to stand out!
In a food processor, place strawberries & sugar. Process until smooth.
Butter madeleine baking pans. Sprinkle with some flour then shake off excess.
In a large bowl, beat eggs & sugar until mixture becomes almost white & foamy. Add strawberry puree, flour, baking powder & lemon zest; whisk until flour is incorporated. Stir the butter gently into the batter using a spatula.
Using a pastry bag, fill each madeleine cup of the tray 3/4 full. Refrigerate the pan with batter for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the pan with the batter from the fridge & bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool a little bit on a wire rack before serving. Dust with powdered sugar if you wish.
CELEBRATING VICTORIA DAY!
For many Canadians, Victoria Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer. It is Canada’s oldest non-religious holiday and although we still hang on to the British Queen’s name (for old times sake), this truly Canadian holiday has everything to do with the end of the cold weather and short days and a lot to do with some great food.
This holiday is called ‘May Two-Four’ in some parts of Canada, a name that refers both to the date around which the holiday falls (May 24th) and Canadian slang for a case of twenty-four beers (a ‘two-four’), a drink popular during the long weekend.
I’m sure, for many this weekend, barbecuing will be up front and center with burgers, steaks and ribs taking top billing. Brion & I decided to wait a bit longer to start barbecuing and have some turkey sliders today instead.
In keeping with some food history ….
The name ‘slider’ originated in the 1940’s when sailors in the US Navy would refer to mini-burgers as sliders because of their extreme greasiness. In just one or two bites, the burger would just slide right down. Fortunately around 2007, sliders evolved from miniature ‘grease bombs’ to elegant culinary creations that now appeal to people of all backgrounds and tastes.
There’s something inherently appealing about a small burger. For the diet-conscious, the idea of a small gourmet burger is more feasible. When dining out, ordering sliders instead of an average sized hamburger also allows you to try several different varieties as they are often served in pairs.
The modern day slider has been reinvented from the traditional beef patty to being made from chicken, pork and veal as well as various seafood options. Having our turkey sliders in stuffing biscuits definitely added that gourmet touch.
Turkey Sliders in Stuffing Biscuits
In a large skillet, heat oil on medium. Add all stuffing ingredients & cook about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl & cool completely.
Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray two 12-cup muffin pans with baking spray.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda & salt until blended. Add butter; with finger tips, combine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk & one third of cooked, cooled, 'stuffing mixture' until JUST blended.
Divide among the 24 muffin cups (about 3 Tbsp each). Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown; transfer biscuits from pans to wire cooling rack.
Line a baking sheet with foil paper. In a bowl, combine turkey, salt & remaining cooked 'stuffing mixture'. Form into 24 patties (2-inch width); place on foil-lined baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
Slice warm biscuits in half. Add turkey patties & dollops of mayo & cranberry preserves.
CELEBRATING MOTHER’S DAY!
As we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. This day is our time to reflect and show gratitude to the women and mother’s who have been mentors and caregivers; ultimately those who have helped to shape us into who we are today.
This blog is especially to honor: the special memories of my mother for her endless giving of selfless love – my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her kind ways and raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with – to my sisters, who have given so much of themselves to be such great moms.
Spring is here and although the pandemic keeps us close to home, it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate Mother’s Day as well as one of the most ‘fruitful’ seasons of the year by baking something special.
The focus on food shifts to lighter recipes with fresh flavors and colors. Simple ingredient additions or substitutions can make spring and summer desserts stand out. Lime gives sweet dishes more complexity, adding a tart note. Substituting refined sugar with honey or maple syrup changes the texture and sweetness. If you have a recipe in mind and want to give it a spring touch, replacing the main ingredient with a seasonal fruit can be quite effective.
I love fruit curds as they differ from jam by having less sugar. Curd is a sort of cream or custard. The most famous is the lemon curd, although it can be made of orange, grapefruit, tangerine, passion fruit and of course lime. Curd is neither too runny nor thick; it is pourable when hot and soft once cooled. It can be used as a filling for tarts, as a spread for scones or toast or inside cakes or muffins.
I think blackberry lime cupcakes are the epitome of fresh flavor not to mention the beautiful visual presentation. Although lime curd can be purchased readily, preparing your own homemade version is not hard but does take a bit of time.
Blackberry & Lime Curd Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 8 muffin cups with paper baking cups.
In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, yogurt, honey, milk, butter & lime zest; mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes then stir in egg whites until blended.
In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt; mix well. Add to oat mixture all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. (do not overmix).
Place a spoonful of the batter in each cup. Top with a small dollop each of blackberry preserve & lime curd. Divide remaining batter between the 8 cups.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool cupcakes in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan & cool completely.
Lime Whip Topping
Prepare as directed on pkg envelope, being sure to measure your lime juice in with the milk (omit the vanilla).
- I had originally though I would top these cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting but thinking they might be too sweet, I went with the lime whip topping instead.