Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category


It all began innocently enough. The search for Tex-Mex recipes led me to the Homesick Texan. I felt an instant kinship–being an ex-pat Texan myself, with a Texas-sized craving for authentic Tex-Mex food–which does not exist on the East coast. I must confess, in addition to delicious recipes, Lisa’s witty and colorful stories pulled me right in–I’ve read her whole archive. Then–I noticed a list of her favorite food blogs. Little did I know what wonders awaited. So the trail led to something called Daring Bakers. After reading a dozen or so accounts of Potato Bread, Buche de Noels, and Lemon Meringue Pie, I just had to play too. I was too late to get in on the French Bread, but seeing the spectacular results some of the other bakers had (Peabody, you inspire me), I could barely contain my enthusiasm.

The March Challenge is Perfect Party Cake, a delicious recipe by Dorie Greenspan from her Baking from My Home to Yours (page 250). A big Thank You to Morven for hosting this month’s challenge!

Light as a Cloud
Light and Fluffy, Not Too Sweet, Tangy with Fresh Lemon–Just Perfect!

As you can see, my result was very nice. I did not get quite the volume I had hoped for, but I think that may be because I missed the “put pans on a baking sheet” instruction, even though I had read the entire recipe completely several times before starting. The layers were, however, thick enough to split, and the cake did not become soggy from the filling. Look closely and you can see the lemon filling in the splits.

Butter and Sugar

Start with Butter, Sugar and Lemon Zest

When I read the entire recipe, including the buttercream frosting, I had to double check to make sure it wasn’t a Paula Deen recipe. Now, I love butter almost as much as Paula, but aside from a pound cake, I seldom make anything that requires a whole pound of the sublime stuff. Creaming is generally my favorite part of cake-making. I love to see how the sugar takes up the butter, turning it fluffy and light. This time, mixing the lemon zest into the sugar was my favorite part. The aroma of the zest wafting up from the bowl perfumed the entire kitchen. It Starts with Butter

Kicking up a Little Sugar

Making cakes “the right way” is almost a lost art–cake mixes are so easy and they have gotten so much better over the years. And lives have gotten so busy. Sifting flour and dry ingredients together is seldom done anymore. It was my job when I was a little girl–the sifter seemed so heavy and I tried so hard to keep all the flour in the bowl. Making this cake was a trip down memory lane for me.

A Shiny Smooth Batter

Nice and Smooth and Glossy Cake Batter

Part of the reason this cake came out so nicely is the attention paid to pan prep. Buttering the pans, cutting parchment rounds and buttering again assured a nice cake bottom. And OMG–you should smell the butter when the cake is taken out of the pans! I decided to make a simple lemon filling for the layer splits and have buttercream between the two layers. The recipe for the filling makes a lot more filling than this cake requires, but it will make a nice few tarts for later in the week. A Slice of Lemony Perfection

Here’s a Piece of Cake for You!

Mom’s Lemon Filling

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water + 7 Tbsp cornstarch

3 egg yolks

3 Tbsp butter

juice of 2 lemons (squeeze fresh)

zest of 1 or 2 lemons

Method :

Bring water and sugar to a boil, stir in cornstarch/water mixture and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Lightly beat eggs with fork, fold in a spoon of the pudding to temper eggs, then add eggs to hot pudding and continue cooking 1 more minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in remaining ingredients. Cool with lid on to prevent film from forming. Refrigerate till ready to use. Makes a good Lemon Pie, too.


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An Apple a Day

One of my New Year’s resolutions, and probably the one I’ll have the most success in keeping, is to use up what we buy to eat. I would love to try the European style of shopping–going to the fresh food purveyors and buying just what we need for the day. Making a week’s menu and spending half a day Saturday foraging for the week’s food is just not my style. So up and down the aisles we go, grabbing what looks good and hoping for inspiration.


That’s how dessert tonite happened. Short on time, with an apple and half a loaf of stale bread needing to be used, I settled on an old favorite, bread pudding–with a bit of a twist. Hiding in the back of the fridge is about half a cup of buttermilk. Okay, we have the makings of Apple Bread Pudding with Buttermilk Sauce. Now before you say “yuck, I don’t like buttermilk,” let me assure you that buttermilk sauce is really a sweet caramel-ly sauce that sinks into every nook and cranny of the baked pudding, puddling lusciously on the plate. With a tall glass of cold milk, you can’t beat this for comfort food.

Pure Comfort
For the longest time, I shied away from making bread pudding–back when I thought I had to have a recipe for everything. There wasn’t a recipe for it in Mom’s recipe box, and there wasn’t a recipe for it in any of my cookbooks–and Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet–as I said, that was a l-o-n-g time ago. Then in an epiphanic moment, I realized that bread pudding is nothing more than french toast in a baking dish. Now, doesn’t that open up all sorts of possibilities.
Up Close and Personal
So, here is the method and the ingredients–just change ’em up to suit your taste. It will vary depending on the type of apple, the bread–how much, now dry, what kind. But this is one of those recipes that, even though it may not be exactly the same every time, it will certainly be good.
Appley Bread Pudding
1 or 2 apples, coarsely grated, including skin
1/2 loaf stale bread (I used plain white bread this time)
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 to 2 cups milk (maybe more, it needs to be very wet)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Generously butter baking dish.
Break or cut bread into 1 inch pieces.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk together, stir in sugar, then add remaining ingredients. Pour into buttered baking dish. Bake 50 to 60 minutes till knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Serve warm with Buttermilk Sauce.
Buttermilk Sauce:
Inspired by Paula Deen
1/2 cup butter (use the real thing)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
When pudding is nearly done, start the sauce. Melt butter in a large saucepan–this will bubble a lot when the baking soda heats up. Stir in sugar, buttermilk and baking soda. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, but keep a boil. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
When Bread Pudding is done, remove from oven, poke holes in pudding with a knife or handle of wooden spoon, pour sauce over and let stand 1 hour. Serve warm. Add whipped cream if you need more decadence.


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