The fall season seems to orchestrate a return to the kitchen, to lure us who enjoy to cook, back to the stove. With the cooler days and nights, heating up the oven to cook or bake becomes conceivable once more.
Like many baked desserts, the self-saucing pudding is a combination of mystery and chemistry. In the baking process, the flour/baking powder, rises to the top and the heavier sauce falls to the bottom.
Not quite a pudding and not exactly a cake, self saucing pudding has a souffle-like quality. It’s origins are unclear, but there is evidence that the concept of pouring hot water (or sauce) over the cake before baking to partially steam it as it bakes may be an Australian innovation.
It really doesn’t matter where the concept came from. What matters is that it works brilliantly to create a dessert with lightness and richness all in one pan. A simple dollop of whip cream on the top and there you have it … home baked goodness!
Caramel Pear Pudding Cake
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water & butter; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover & set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 4 oven-proof custard dishes ( 1 1/4 cup capacity) & place on a baking sheet. Place half of a pear in each dish.
In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, spices, milk & vanilla; mix well. Spread the mixture evenly over pear halves in dishes. Sprinkle batter with pecans. Carefully pour HOT caramel sauce over pudding batter in custard cups.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until puddings are firm. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.
I remember the first time I heard of sour cream being used in making a rhubarb pie. I could hardly imagine it but once I tried it there was no going back! If you look through some of the older recipe books, there are at least eight or nine different pies made using sour cream. These nostalgic desserts certainly take you back to a simpler time.
Basically this is your classic rhubarb pie except with a sweet/sour cream, custard filling. The sour cream is not assertive; its presence simply provides a rich, creamy background for the rhubarb.
I’m not sure why, but I never get tired of cooking (or eating) rhubarb. Every season, I can’t wait until its ready to use. Last year, Brion and I found another spot for three new plants to grow in our yard, so hopefully they do well. I realize its not for everyone but it is certainly versatile in its uses.
For this rhubarb crostada, I’m using an spiced-oat streusal topping which almost mimics a baked fruit crumble taste. Serving this dessert chilled brings it to its full potential. Of course, when you add a scoop of ice cream!
Sour Cream Rhubarb Crostada
Cornmeal Pastry (OR use purchased refrigerated pastry if you wish)
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using your fingertips, cut in the butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the liquid mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed. Do NOT over work pastry. Press dough into a disk shape; wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate until ready to use.
In a bowl, combine all topping ingredients with fingertips until crumbly; set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, Mix 1 cup sugar, 3 Tbsp flour, 1 tsp cardamom & orange zest. Stir in slightly beaten eggs & sour cream, add rhubarb; toss gently.
Remove pastry from fridge. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out pastry into a 12-inch circle. Place pastry in a 9-inch pie pan, leaving parchment paper underneath it. Pour filling into crostada; gently fold the 1/2-inch of pastry remaining above pie pan rim over edge of crostada. Sprinkle spiced-oat topping over filling. Brush pastry edge with egg wash.
Bake 50-60 minutes until edge is puffed, filling is slightly jiggly & topping is golden. Cover loosely with foil if topping begins to brown too much. Cool at least 3 hours before serving. Slice & serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
With doughnuts, its all about the ‘hole’. No hole, no doughnut. That little circle means everything. The idea of frying a piece of dough is ancient. The Romans, Dutch, Spanish and Germans all did it. While we know who introduced the doughnut, the story behind the doughnut hole is a little less clear. The most likely explanation was that at some point, bakers started adding egg yolks to their recipes, which produced a richer dough. Of course, this meant the middle of the doughnut no longer cooked at the same rate as its edges, resulting in doughy, raw centers. They came to the conclusion, that if they removed the thick center, the doughnut would cook evenly throughout. It was also believed that the hole was formed to make it easy to ‘dunk’ the doughnut in coffee. However, as in all food history stories you will find various other versions that are more entertaining and whimsical.
In Canada, doughnut holes that are sold by the Tim Horton franchise, have become known as ‘Tim bits’. The name is a play on the word ‘tidbit’ (a delicate bit of food). They were introduced in April 1976 and are available in at least 20 flavors that differ from store to store.
I’m not big on deep fried things whether they are sweet or savory. These carrot cake doughnut holes are baked — no frying necessary. Dip them in a bit of cream cheese ‘glaze’, sprinkle with remaining chopped walnuts and enjoy!
Carrot Cake Doughnut Holes with Cream Cheese Glaze
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, finely grate carrots. Sift in flour then add brown sugar, soda & spices. Add egg & oil & beat until mixture is smooth. Fold in half of the chopped walnuts.
Butter & flour a cake pop pan. Divide batter between 14 holes. Secure top pan in place with rubber clamps. Bake for 10-12 minutes, testing with a toothpick at about 8 minutes. When baked, remove from oven & allow to cool before removing top pan.
In a small bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, margarine & milk. Gradually add sugar & vanilla beating to a glaze consistency.
Once doughnut holes are removed from pan & thoroughly cooled, dip in glaze, sprinkle with remaining walnuts. Allow to firm up in refrigerator before serving with forks.
- Self-Rising Flour is made with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt & enough all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup.
Crumble, a dish of British origin, can be sweet or savory. The sweet variety generally contains stewed fruit with a crumbly topping of butter, flour and sugar. A savory version uses meat, vegetables and sauce for the filling, with cheese replacing sugar in the crumble mix.
Crumbles and crisps are very similar. They both contain fresh fruit with a streusal-like topping. The original difference between the two was in the topping: crisps would contain oats and crumbles would not. Overtime the lines have blurred and the names crumble and crisp are now used interchangeably.
Oatmeal ‘anything’ is very nostalgic for me. I can’t remember one thing my mother made using oatmeal that I didn’t like, including ‘porridge’. Oatmeal is still as much a staple in our pantry as it was in my mothers.
For this dessert, I thought it would be unique to add a little caramelized twist to an old classic crumble. Caramelization is a chemical change that makes naturally occurring sugars in fruit, when gently sauteed in butter, turn brown and quite flavorful. The combination of caramelized bananas, fresh mango and lemon juice topped with a spicy crumble is wonderful (and easy).
Caramelized Banana & Mango Crumble
Preheat oven to 350 F. On a parchment lined baking sheet, slice bananas into discs. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp brown sugar & bake for about 10 minutes or until caramelized. Remove from oven. In a medium bowl, place mango, 1 Tbsp sugar & lemon juice. Mix until combined; add Caramelized bananas & toss gently. Spoon fruit mixture equally into 2 or 4 ramekins.
In a small dish, toss together all of the crumble ingredients, using your fingers to combine. Divide crumble between ramekins. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with either ice cream or whipped cream.
I haven’t thought of puffed wheat cake in years. It’s probably been 15 or 20 years since I’ve even made any. So what happened to puffed wheat? I remember this cereal from my childhood, being sold in HUGE plastic bags. It seems that puffed wheat cake (or squares) was a distinctly rural Canadian phenomenon. Nearly anyone from the prairie provinces recalls the recipe from memory. When I looked through my mothers recipe file, she had a recipe for ‘puffed wheat brittle’. This was the forerunner to puffed wheat ‘squares’. It was made using sugar, water, vinegar, molasses, butter & salt.
The Rice Krispie cereal came on the market in North America in 1928. Food history states that similar recipes existed for Puffed Rice & Puffed Wheat but neither used marshmallows, only molasses. Most inventions are built on what has come before and the ‘Rice Krispie Marshmallow Treats’ were no different.
Home economists, Mildred Day and her co-worker, Malitta Jensen, who worked for the Kellogg’s company in 1939 are credited with inventing ‘Rice Krispie Treats’. Originally they had been developed as a snack for an organization called Campfire Girls. They were having a fundraiser and needed something unique that the girls could sell door to door.
In 1940, the original recipe for Kellogg’s Rice Krispie Treats first appeared on the cereal box and continues to do so to this day. In 1995, the company began selling the pre-packaged ones. The fact that they are so quick and easy to make attributes to their continued popularity and of course there are no end to variations you can make from the original recipe.
Here are a couple of ideas you might enjoy to try.
Chai Puffed Wheat Squares / Rice Krispie Treats
Chai Puffed Wheat Squares
Chai Puffed Wheat Squares
In a large buttered bowl, measure out puffed wheat; set aside. In a saucepan, combine margarine, brown sugar, corn syrup & spices; bring to a boil. Remove from heat & add vanilla. Pour mixture over puffed wheat & stir quickly until completely coated. Pour immediately into prepared buttered pan (size will depend on how thick you like your squares to be) & press down firmly to flatten. When cool, cut into preferred size pieces.
Rice Krispie Treats
Lightly butter a 9 x 13" pan. In a large bowl, measure rice krispies, flax flakes, cranberries, pumpkin seeds & flax seed. In a large saucepan, slowly melt margarine with marshmallows. Remove from heat, add vanilla. Add mixture from bowl & stir quickly to combine well. Pour into buttered pan & press down firmly. When cool, cut into preferred size pieces.
Christmas without making a few candy treats just wouldn’t seem right. Even if its not at the top of your baking list, they are just so handy to have on hand to add to those holiday gift trays.
There was only one very special candy treat my mother made at Christmas that I remember. A small group of ‘neighbor’ ladies in our farming community had formed the ‘Willonor Club’. It wasn’t just to gather for coffee and chit chat. They were all very hands on women that enjoyed ‘networking’ about a variety of subjects. Each meeting would be hosted by one the members in her home. They would always have a specific focus to learn or do something new. One of the ladies had learned how to make dipped chocolates with her church group. She, in turn taught the Willonor Club members. Now these were not just your average chocolates. They looked every bit as professional as the ‘Pot of Gold’ brand but tasted so much better. None of this sugary sweetness — just a creamy, not overly sweet center, covered in a milk chocolate. Yum!! I came across the recipe in her little file box, written in her lovely handwriting and there I was, reliving the ‘taste of a memory’ by just reading it.
I decided to limit this candy blog to three, tried and true favorites. They are KAHLUA BALLS * PUMPKIN CREAM CHEESE TRUFFLES * APRICOT DATE BALLS. Easy to make, taste great and freeze well — perfect!
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles
In a large bowl, combine cookie crumbs, walnuts & powdered sugar. Add Kahlua & corn syrup; mix well. Shape into 48 balls & roll in desired toppings such as cocoa powder, fine colored sugar, sprinkles, finely crushed walnuts or oreo crumbs. Chill overnight then either freeze or store in refrigerator in an airtight container.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles
In a double boiler over medium-low heat, melt the 55 grams of white chocolate. Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients & beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Cover & chill until solid enough to roll into balls. Once mixture can be formed, roll into 16 balls.
Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Chop almonds in almond bark then carefully melt in double boiler. Transfer to a small, deep bowl. Drop a few balls at a time into melted chocolate. Working quickly, spoon chocolate over truffle to coat. Using a small spoon or fork, lift truffle out of chocolate & shake off excess, transfer to prepared sheet. Chill truffles until chocolate is completely set. Place in an airtight container & either freeze or store in refrigerator.
Apricot - Date Balls
In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar, apricots, dates & eggs. Cook over low heat for 6-8 minutes or until mixture pulls away from the sides of saucepan, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & stir in walnuts & vanilla. Allow to cool until mixture can be handled. Line an airtight container with wax paper. Shape apricot/date mixture into 30 balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place in container & either freeze or store in refrigerator.
- If preferred, use all gingersnap crumbs instead of graham crumbs in the original recipe for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles.