Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Jamaretti Cookies

I love anything with almond paste in it, especially amaretti cookies, and any baked good made with jam.  This bar cookie combines the flavor of an amaretti with a jam filling, thus the name, jamaretti! I've had the recipe from Martha Stewart ear-marked to try for a while now.  I ran across a version that had orange zest in the cookie dough and orange juice and zest in the glaze and knew I would be baking them soon!  It's crazy tax season time in my office and I put a platter of these by the coffee pot, they didn't last long! They make a nice little treat with your morning coffee!

I made the dough the night before and got up a little early to roll out the dough and bake them. They baked while I showered, it was a great use of time! Any kind of jam can be used, I used apricot and boysenberry for this batch.  Raspberry would be good, too. They are a little chewy, not too sweet, and very tasty!

Jamaretti Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 oz. almond paste, cubed
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2/3 cup jam (apricot, boysenberry/blackberry, raspberry)

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons milk

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Combine almond paste, orange zest, and sugar in a food processor and pulse until blended. Add butter, eggs, and almond extract, and blend until smooth. Add flour mixture and pulse just until a soft dough forms. Divide dough in half, scrape out onto two pieces of plastic wrap (dough will be sticky), shape into a disk, and wrap well.  Chill dough until firm, 45 minutes to 1 hour (dough can be made ahead).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured board, shape dough into two 14 x 3-inch logs; transfer to baking sheet. Bake logs for 15 minutes, until just set. Remove from oven and make an indentation down the center of each log with the back of a tablespoon.  Place jam in a small bowl and warm briefly in the microwave (about 10 seconds). Stir jam to loosen, then fill the center of each log with jam. Return logs to oven and continue baking 12 to 14 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and place baking sheet on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, salt, orange zest, orange juice, and milk in a small bowl.  Drizzle glaze over logs, and let set before using a serrated knife to cut logs on the diagonal (like biscotti). Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Adapted from Martha Stewart and Tutti-Dolci.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Orange Mimosa Cake

The only fresh, local fruit this time of year is citrus. It seems all my friends have trees and I've been (luckily) inundated with fresh oranges and lemons. My son has an orange tree and I've gone through quite a few buckets from his tree. I'm always looking for new recipes to try and this cake, from the cookbook Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories, caught my eye. Her recipe calls for blood oranges.  I had no blood oranges and needed to use up the fresh-from-the-tree oranges I had.  Blood oranges have a pink tint to them.  The resulting pink in the glaze would make this cake a perfect dessert for a Valentine's Day celebration. It was good with traditional oranges but I am looking forward to making it with blood oranges.

This is basically a pound cake; lots of mixing of the butter and sugar.  It's got a wonderful orange flavor as orange zest is rubbed into the sugar, thus distributing the orange all throughout the cake. It gets extra moistness from the simple syrup that is poured over the baked cake. It was great for dessert and it was great for a mid-morning treat!

A bonus to making this cake is that there will be leftover champagne. A little bubbly, while baking? Why not!

Orange Mimosa Cake

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pink  Champagne
3 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Simple Syrup
1/2 cup pink  Champagne
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice

Orange Glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Heat oven to 315 degrees. Spray a 10-cup bundt pan with nonstick baking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar with the orange zest. Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant.

Add the butter and salt to the bowl and cream together with the sugar. Beat on medium-high for 7 minutes, until butter is pale yellow and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Reduce speed to low and slowly add the flour in two batches, mixing each time until just combined. Pour in the champagne and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 70-80 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Let cool to room temperature.

To make the simple syrup, in a small pot over medium heat, combine all the ingredients and cook until the mixture is reduced by about a third and thickened; about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

For the glaze, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl until it is a pourable consistency.

To assemble cake, poke holes all over the cooled cake with a skewer or fork. Slowly pour the simple syrup over the cake so it's absorbed. Repeat until the syrup is used up.

Drizzle the glaze over the cake and let it set for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sprinkle Cake (and an Anniversary!)

Today is my parents' 62nd wedding anniversary. That's quite an accomplishment in today's "throw away" society.  Like all marriages, they have had their share of ups and downs, but they've stayed committed. They raised four children, and have seven grandchildren and nine (so far!) great-grandchildren. Though they have some health issues they are still enjoying life and their family.

I usually take dinner to my parents on Sundays.  Dad has a major sweet tooth and his favorite cake is a plain white cake.  I wanted to make them a special dessert so decided to bake them a cake. I've seen so many sprinkle cakes on Instagram lately, I knew I had to make Dad's white cake a little extra-special. He loved it!

Any white cake can be used to make a sprinkle cake, it's just a matter of adding sprinkles to the batter before baking.  Heck, just use a boxed mix and throw some sprinkles in!  It's just a fun addition to a cake. You want to make sure you get the sprinkles called jimmies as the color in those sprinkles won't bleed during baking and turn your cake batter a muted color.  With "jimmies" you get bright spots of colors all throughout the cake.  Of course, kids love anything with sprinkles and my grandson enjoyed this, too!

I had big plans of doing some decorative piping on the cake so used a crusting buttercream. Time got away from me and I ended up pretty much just slathering the frosting on!  An all-butter frosting can also be used, but it doesn't hold it's shape as well as a frosting with some shortening in it.

Sprinkle Cake

4 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup sprinkles
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
8 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup milk
Pinch salt
Preheat oven to 350F and prep 3 9-inch round baking pans by greasing the bottom and sides (I used baking spray).
In a large bowl, whisk 4 cups flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt; set aside.
Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 1 1/2 cups butter on medium-high speed until smooth, light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add 1 3/4 cups sugar and beat on medium-high speed for another 5-7 minutes until very creamy (almost like whipped cream - you cannot see grains of sugar anymore), stopping frequently to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
Add the 4 eggs, one at a time, until each one is well incorporated. Then add the 3 teaspoons of vanilla.
Switch to low speed and add a third of your flour mixture. Add half the buttermilk. Add another third of  the flour,  the last of the buttermilk, then finally the last third of the flour. Make sure each addition is mixed just until incorporated before the next one is added (do not over mix). You will notice the batter will be thick but still smooth and creamy.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the 2 egg whites  until thick and foamy.  Gently fold into your batter. Then gently fold in the 3/4 cup sprinkles.
Transfer your batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, remove from pans and let cool completely before frosting.
Trim the tops of your cakes if they are uneven, using a serrated knife. The important thing is all three cakes are of equal height.
For the frosting, place room temperature butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and 1/2 cup milk. Turn mixer on low and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.  Turn mixer up to medium-high and mix for 2-4 minutes, adding more milk, if necessary, to reach desired consistency. Add food color, if desired.
Take one cake and place on a platter or cake turntable, smooth side down (trimmed side up). Evenly cover the top with frosting. Repeat with the 2nd and 3rd layers. For your 3rd layer, remember to place it smooth side up (trimmed side down) so that you'll have an even top.
Finish the cake by also covering the sides of your cake with a thin layer of frosting.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set the frosting, then cover the sides with the remaining frosting.  To help even out the frosting on top and the sides, use a bench scraper and gently scrape away excess frosting.
Decorate with sprinkles as desired.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Apple Cider (Baked) Donuts

The Food Network Channel has a new cooking show called Baking in Vermont. The subject of the show is Gesine Prado.  She and her husband live in rural Vermont and she runs a home-based baking school.  She is also the sister of the actress, Sandra Bullock.  I'm really liking the show, have earmarked many things that I want to bake. I like when the network has shows like this, where a person can learn new techniques.  I also find it interesting to see how things are done in Vermont.  They have food items and traditions that are totally foreign to this California girl!

On a recent show, she had an apple cider pressing gathering.  She recruited friends to press the apples and she made them breakfast.  One of the items were this baked donuts. After seeing the show I immediately went to Amazon and ordered some donut pans.  I am so easily influenced when it comes to baking pans!

I finally got around to making these.  They were quite yummy, especially when they were warm. They were very easy to make, I managed to make these and entertain my 3-year old grandson at the same time!

The recipe calls for the batter to be piped in one pan with another pan placed on top.  On the show she indicated that this was to get a round shape on both sides of the donut.  Well, in all honesty, mine were still flat on top! Maybe I should have added more batter?  It's not that big of a deal to me that I didn't have a fully-round donut so I instantly gave my two extra pans to my daughter-in-love!

I couldn't find any apple cider concentrate locally so bought this online.  It reminds me of molasses, so thick and the flavor is so concentrated. I think it definitely enhanced the flavor of these donuts.  I'm looking for recipes where I can use this again, it's so good!

Apple Cider (Baked) Donuts

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup apple cider concentrate (for more depth of flavor) or apple cider
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

For dipping:
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Special equipment: four 6-cavity donut pans (see note above)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray four 6-cavity donut pans with nonstick baking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Whisk for 30 seconds to distribute the leavening.

In a liquid measure cup, combine the cider, buttermilk and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Mix on high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add one-third of the flour mixture and then half of the cider mixture. Continue alternating between the two until the batter is just combined. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and, using a large rubber spatula, fold the batter a few times to make sure the ingredients are well distributed.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag or a large zip-close bag with a corner snipped off, and pipe into two of the donut pans.

Top each pan with a second, inverted pan and use clips to hold them in place. (Some pans come with clips; otherwise, use metal hardware or paper clips.)

Bake until the cake just springs back when gently touched, 15 to 20 minutes.

Turn the donuts out onto a cooling rack; immediately brush with melted butter, then dip in the cinnamon sugar.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Meyer Lemon Danish Braid

A friend recently brought in to my office a big box of Meyer lemons from one of her trees. We divided them up and I've been using them ever since. Oh, they are so good! My granddaughter loves scones with lemon curd and strawberry jam.  We recently had a two-person tea party and I made lemon curd for us. With leftover lemon curd in the fridge, I went searching for recipes and ran across this Danish braid on Instagram, of all places! (On a side note, I love the internet for the ability of finding new things but it has to cut down on cookbook sales.  I've not bought a new book in ages!) In addition to lemon curd, the braid has a cream cheese filling. What's not to like about that?

My favorite way to make breakfast yeast breads is to make the dough the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. This bread was easy to put together, my stand mixer did most of the work while I concentrated on making dinner. The hardest part was the braiding.  I need practice as my braiding kinda fell apart!  Oh, well, it still tasted great even though it could have looked prettier!

This was an easy and delicious breakfast treat.  My Hubbers had three pieces, which is unusual for him. My next-door neighbors loved it, too. Any kind of jam would work as a substitute for the lemon curd. This bread will be made again and again!

Meyer Lemon Danish Bread

6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package yeast
2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup sugar
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups flour, divided

3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup lemon curd (see recipe here)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice

For the sponge, heat milk in a microwave-safe measuring cup for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until very warm (120-130°F). Whisk together warm milk, sugar, yeast, and flour in a medium bowl; cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes.
For the dough, combine sugar, cream cheese, butter, salt, vanilla, egg, and sponge in a large mixer bowl; beat at medium speed for 1 minute until combined. Add 2 cups  flour and mix in at low speed until a soft dough forms, about 2 to 3 minutes. Switch out the flat beater for a dough hook, and knead dough for 4 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding remaining 1/4 cup of flour 1 tablespoon at a time to prevent dough from sticking. The dough is ready when it feels tacky but doesn't stick to your fingers.
Place dough in a large bowl coated with nonstick spray and cover with plastic. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 50 to 60 minutes. To check if dough has doubled, lightly flour two fingers and press them down into center of dough. If indentations remain, dough has risen enough.
While the dough rises, prepare the filling. Combine cream cheese, sugar, salt, Meyer lemon juice, and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and dust lightly with flour. Gently punch down dough and roll out into a 12 x 15-inch rectangle on prepared baking sheet. Use an offset spatula to spread cream cheese mixture down the center of the dough, leaving a 4-inch border on each side and a 1-inch border at the top and bottom. Spread Meyer lemon curd over the cream cheese filling. Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut 15 1-inch strips on both sides of dough (be careful not to cut parchment paper).
Remove the four corner strips and fold top border down over filling. Work from top to bottom and fold strips over filling, alternating strips diagonally (begin by folding over the top left strip, then fold the top right strip, then a left strip, and so on). When all the strips are folded over filling, fold up the bottom border and press to seal. Cover braid loosely with plastic and let rise 25 minutes. (Prepare ahead: After braid rests, cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking).
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake braid until golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before glazing. For the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, Meyer lemon zest, and juice in a small bowl. Drizzle glaze over braid and let set before serving.
Recipe adapted from:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Raspberry Orange Rolls

My son and daughter-in-love got me a new baking pan for Christmas. (If my son is anything like his father, he probably didn't know what he gifted me until I opened the package!) We all know I love cute baking pans and this pan is just adorable.  It came with a small spatula that says "bake it off". 

Well, of course getting this pan meant I had to  make some rolls! I had just made cinnamon rolls a few days earlier so wanted to do something different. I love, love, love any kind of berry so knew I had to try these raspberry rolls.  The addition of orange zest in the raspberry filling was just the right flavor combination.  I shared a pan of these rolls with my next-door neighbors and they got rave reviews.

I used frozen raspberries for two reasons.  One, it's not berry season and the ones in the produce section just didn't appeal to me.  Secondly, the frozen raspberries seem to hold their shape a little better, they don't get as mushy when baked. Either will work fine!

As with most breakfast yeast dough that I make, I assembled these rolls the night before and baked them the next morning. I prepared the dough and placed the sliced rolls in the pans. I wrapped them tightly with plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning I set out the dough to warm and rise until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes before baking. This method works so well for me, I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to have fresh homemade rolls!

I make most of my yeast dough in my Kitchenaid mixer, taking advantage of letting the dough hook do all the kneading for me.  If you don't have a big mixer, these rolls are very easy to make by hand.  Just knead them until you have a smooth dough that springs back when touched.

Raspberry Orange Rolls

1 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup  butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Raspberry Filling
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
10 ounces frozen raspberries

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice (or more to get good consistency)

For the dough, place lukewarm milk, melted butter, yeast, egg, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk until combined. Attach the dough hook, add the flour, and knead on low speed about 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively, add flour and stir until the mixture begins to form a dough. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes).

Form the dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm environment until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12 x 15-inch rectangle. Spread 2 tablespoons softened butter over dough.

For the filling, mix together the sugar and orange zest until fragrant ( I squish it together with my fingers). Mix in the cornstarch. Gently stir in the frozen raspberries.  Sprinkle raspberry mixture uniformly on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Starting lengthwise, roll the dough into a log shape. Trim off the ends and slice the roll into 12 evenly sized pieces. Place rolls into a buttered 9 x 13-inch pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

To make the glaze, whisk together confectioners sugar and orange juice in a small bowl.  Add more orange juice, if necessary, to get a glaze consistency. Spread baked rolls with glaze using an off-set spatula while they are still warm.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review

In my 2016 review post I mentioned that I hoped 2017 would be a better year for us as our families had health issues and deaths to get past.  2017 was slightly better, but there were still bumps in the road. Our parents have a multitude of health issues, which involves more and more of our time. My Hubbers had a stroke on July 1, which really knocked us for a loop.  He's had a great recovery and we've found that our life's priorities have changed.  Work isn't as important as it was, we are valuing our leisure time even more than before. Spending time at home, and with our family and friends, has become even more precious.

Reviewing my year's blog posts reinforces that, even with our setbacks, we still have a full and blessed life.  We did a lot of entertaining, I baked a lot of new things (I get bored baking the same things!), I made a lot of sugar cookies and I am progressing with my novice  quilting skills.  Family traditions, such as our annual tea and my granddaughters' gingerbread decorating day, continue on. I keep striving to learn and grow in many areas. I'm looking forward to 2018 and all it will bring.

Here is a little recap of some of my favorite domestic moments during 2017:


We don't go out on New Year's Eve, preferring to avoid the crowds.  Instead, we stay in and I make a nice dinner for us.  This year we ate in front of the fire.  I learned to make patterned plates with mod podge and material.  It was an easy and rewarding craft, I've since made plates for other occasions.


As I did in 2016, I joined an online quilt sew-along.  It was to be a tax season diversion for me. This year's sew-along went at a much faster pace and involved a lot of appliquing.  Due to  my crazy tax season schedule I couldn't keep up the pace and didn't finish the quilt until mid-summer. The quilt is beautiful and I learned a lot in the process.  I have a much simpler project in line for tax season 2018!


My kitchen is pretty much in a dormant state during March.  We are in the thick of tax season; deadlines and pressure are the norm.  But I miss being in the kitchen.  One day I made an old family favorite recipe, Texas Sheet Cake.  So easy, so good, and my office staff was quite happy with me!


With the end of tax season looming, my appointments getting lighter, I got in the kitchen a little more often.  Bon Appetit said this cake recipe was one of their most popular.  I can see why, it was very light and tender.  I've since made it with other berries and it was just as good!


By the time tax season ends, I have a list of projects I want to complete and I often don't know which one to start on first.  I had started these embroidered napkins at the beginning of the year, then they sat for a few months.  Once I got back to them they were easy to finish.  A simple embroidery pattern made for a beautiful set of napkins.


My favorite fruit stand is up and running and boysenberries are in season!  I lost count of how many boysenberry pies and crisps I made.  Boysenberry pie is one of my favorites and this simple recipe can't be beat. I still have some frozen boysenberries in the freezer, I think I need to make a pie!


I did no posting in July.  My Hubbers had a stroke July 1 and the month was spent in the hospital or in and out of doctor's offices. I missed my kitchen a lot during this time period, hospital food is as bad as you hear about!


Most birthday dinners in my family revolve around tacos.  Guacamole is a must-have on taco nights!


September found me hosting several parties; a baby shower for my niece and a 7th birthday party for my granddaughter.  Though tiring, I enjoy the decorating, making cookies and treats for the parties.  I also like when everything is over and I can kick up my feet and relax!


My three granddaughters and I met up one afternoon for our annual Halloween gingerbread house day. This year I played with fondant and made various accessories for the houses.  The girls are getting very good at decorating, have their  own ideas of what they want to do,  and can use a piping bag quite well.  I enjoy this time with them, our giggles and laughter.


I have a cake pan obsession and bought a few this year.  This fall-themed pan is one of my favorites.  This jalapeno cornbread is quite good even if you don't have a fun pan!


We had our 11th annual Christmas Tea the first part of December.  This year we ranged in age from 4 weeks to 93 years old. It's become a cherished tradition.  This year's theme was Peppermint and Roses. 

Thank you for following my domestic pursuits on my little blog this year.  I enjoy your comments and questions. Happy New Year!