Fresh Cherry Slab Pie. Enough for breakfast the next morning. Heaven.

This was a wonderful end to a beautiful Mediterranean themed dinner cooked by a friend.  Despite a very warm kitchen I was able to patch together the pastry.  Even my granite counters could not keep the chilled dough cool enough to make it manageable.  I patched the top together, gave it an egg wash and sprinkled berry sugar on the top.  The result was a lovely golden top.  The pie was very warm when I sliced it and it was perfection.  A pizza cutter was the secret tool.  It was just as good for breakfast.  MMMM…

Citrusy bites of heaven with a robust glaze.

Glazed cookies always seem to be too much work. I am just as happy with a warm chocolate chip cookie, although truth be told, its the dough I am usually after.  The other day I spotted this new recipe in the back of the May 2012 Everyday Food magazine.  The cookies are called Glazed Citrus Doodles.  My first thought was that my citrus loving daughters would be in sugar coma heaven if I surprised them with these morsels.  Sure enough…

The recipe was very easy to work with.  My only comment was that I prefer when the ingredients indicate that an item is to be divided.  This recipe called for orange zest and orange juice.  The total amount required for the recipe was indicated however the method indicates a portion is for the dough and another portion is for the glaze.  To avoid confusion the recipe writer should indicate the ingredient is divided or separate the ingredients out (for example list the items for the dough and then the ingredients for the glaze).  Always take the time to read through the method.  I know I have said this many times before but it is important for novice bakers as well as experienced bakers.  In fact, I believe it is experienced bakers who might miss this because so often they already understand the method, they are just looking at the measurement of the ingredients.  Guilty, I am.  These are a wonderful summer cookie.  Bake them and share with your favorite friend.Image

Cherry Breakfast Focaccia

This morning I was inspired by the delicious cherries available in the markets right now.  They are my favorite fruit so it does not take much to motivate me to bake with cherries. The base was a sweet bread dough that might faithful bread machine made while I went for a run.  When I came home I rolled the dough out quite thin on one of my large baking sheets.  The best tool I have for this is a small rolling pin, that I bought in China, used for making dumplings by hand.  It has no handles and rolls perfectly between the rims of the baking sheets.  I pitted the cherries, tossed them in brown sugar and sprinkled them on the dough.  I made a simple crumb topping with brown sugar, flour and walnuts mixed with cold butter.  That covered the top and it went straight into the oven.  The result is a delicious breakfast bread.  Not too sweet.  I found that it was best with some butter spread along the edges when I was eating it.  Perhaps next time I might drizzle a glaze on it.  In my opinion it needed more fruit and I think instead of walnuts I might try almonds or pecans next time.  The nuts should be chopped fairly fine.  I want to try this with nectarines or peaches, too.  Overall it was something new and offered a nice change from muffins.  It was easy to eat so you could eat it in the car

on the way to work.Image

What is the secret to having your favorite biscuits rise to lofty heights?

I have always admired mile high biscuits.  My mouth waters when I imagine the flavor squeezed into those layers.  Today I was reading a new cookbook (more info to follow in a later blog reviewing the book) and according to author Kir Jensen, of The Sugar Cube food cart in Portland, Oregon, it’s all in the biscuit cutter.  Let’s face it we are all decent bakers in our own right or we wouldn’t be surfing baking blogs, would we?  So we have all likely got a favorite biscuit recipe.  But why won’t yours rise to the heights you imagine they should?  Perhaps it is the upside down drinking glass you are using to cut the biscuits.  According to Jensen “If you want your biscuits to rise to impressive heights, make sure your biscuit cutter is sharp.”  Well, I rushed out and bought a biscuit cutter this afternoon because I was a DGBC (drinking glass biscuit cutter).  I’ve been making cheddar chive biscuits lately and the result of my sharp biscuit cutter is below.  Wow!  What a difference.  Thank you Kir!

 

TWD: Lemon Loaf

 

Now that slower summer days have arrived in my kitchen, I am trying to catch up with my fellow Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.  This recipe is the Lemon Loaf Cake from page 252 of the cookbook we are using for this online baking group, Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  I was not happy with the appearance of my loaf.  Many of the other bakers in the challenge did a wonderful job of decorating the loaf with glaze and candied lemons.  I did not bother as the top of my loaf rose too much.  Perhaps my loaf pan was slightly less in volume than what the recipe called for.  The flavor of the loaf was excellent.  It had a wonderful true lemon flavor to it however the cake seemed dry to me.  I do not have a favorite recipe for this loaf cake and I think I will keep looking.

A new flavor combination for an old pantry favorite. Apricot and Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies.

 

The other day I was trying out a new cheesecake recipe and unfortunately the cake was a disaster.  The recipe method called for warm apricot jam to be spread along the sides of the cheesecake so crushed pistachios could be pressed on. While I was cleaning up from this messy situation I dipped my finger into the warm jam and then dabbed at the crushed pistachios on the counter.  The taste was sublime.  What a delightful combination.  Today I decided to make a batch of butter balls, a simple old-fashioned cookie known to many of you as Thumbprint or Bird’s Nest cookies.  I rolled the cookies in crushed pistachios and then topped them with apricot jam.  The first batch of nut crusted cookies did not even have time to cool so I could dab the apricot jam in the small dent before the tasters began nibbling.  What a delight these simple cookies are.  I am enjoying one now with a hot cup of tea while I share this post with you.  When I was a younger, less experienced baker, the cheesecake disaster would have sent me flying – along with bits of cheesecake across the kitchen.  Now, my much more mature self, was lucky enough to discover a wonderful new flavor.  Another wonderful baking moment shared in the kitchen of the Canadian Baking Fairy.

NY Bakeries I visited this past week.

Sometimes the Canadian Baking Fairy takes the show on the road and when I do, we visit bakeries.  Levain Bakery, on the Upper Westside was a real treat.  It is the cutest little shop that you can’t miss because on a Saturday morning the line-up is out the door and up the stairs.  Do not be deterred though, the line moves quick.  I ordered a bombolini (an Italian doughnut), a chocolate brioche and an oatmeal scone.  The scone was a last minute decision because people in the line-up were raving about it.  My favorite was the chocolate brioche.  It was not fancy and the chocolate chips gave the appearance of it being very pedestrian but it was not.  The chocolate was divine and the bread was perfect.  My companions had a blueberry muffin that melted in your mouth.  A very fine crumb, indeed.  Enjoy the pictures.  We sat in the sunshine outside the bakery on a brick planter box.  The perfect way to gather strength for a walk in Central Park.

Fit for tea with a Queen. Hungarian Shortbread.

Today the Tuesdays with Dorie group baked Hungarian Shortbread.  Essentially it is a shortbread crust with jam sandwiched between the two layers.  I used a jar of quality strawberry jam although the recipe calls for homemade rhubarb jam.  This is a delicious bar and begs you to sit down with a hot cup of tea to enjoy it with!  Or if you are having the Queen for tea, you might like to serve this.  By the way, this cup and saucer is one I picked up at the Buckingham Palace gift shop last year.

The fun thing about this recipe was the new technique included in the method.  The dough is chilled or frozen and then grated into the pan.  It was very quick and although it looked somewhat peculiar at the start (felt like I was make a lasagna or some other casserole covered in shredded mozzarella) the result was worth it.  This was a new technique for me so I checked out Gale Gand’s website.  She was the pastry chef that contributed this recipe.   On her website she explains that “Grating the shortbread dough into the pan gives it a lighter, more open texture;”.  There is certainly a lovely crumb on the top of this square.  Delicious!