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Monday, May 28, 2012

Beer Bread

If you decide to try out this recipe, I promise it will be one of the most satisfyingly simple things you've ever made. This beer bread has a buttery, crunchy, lightly salty crust on the outside, all the way around, and is soft, airy, a little chewy, and slightly sweet on the inside. There is absolutely no sifting, kneading, proofing, resting, or anything even remotely complicated about this recipe. Just some pouring, stirring, and placing into a hot oven. You can do this!

I would almost venture to call this bread "foolproof" - and that's a legitimate claim, coming from me. I make many foolish mistakes in the course of recipe experimentation. One of these days I'll post blooper pictures. No, I probably won't. But seriously, make this bread. If you have last minute company (summer is coming - it happens!) and want something impressive to serve but don't have time to go to the store - make this bread. You probably already have all of the ingredients.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Blueberry pie with limoncello lemon curd

Blueberry and lemon are two of my very favorite flavors, and together? It's a winning combination. Blueberries are delicious, but I think their subtle sweetness is even better when juxtaposed with tart lemon. With the deep blue color of the berries plus a little creativity with the crust, you can make a patriotic pie to show off at your Memorial Day BBQ.

These beautiful berries are just begging for booze, aren't they?

Since I was planning to add lemon curd, I wanted to make sure the blueberries wouldn't be overpowered. I've gotten accustomed to adding a little booze to my pie crust, to make it extra crispy. In this case, I substituted 2 Tbsp of water with blueberry vodka - just to add extra emphasis on the blueberry flavor.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Amaretto and Apple Galette

This galette is easier than you think!  Ground almonds in the filling, enriched by smooth Amaretto.  Not too sweet, not too tart: Just Right!   This tart is similar to my hazelnut tart, but more dense yet less sweet.  A great combination for dessert or to start you day off with a strong cup of coffee or espresso.  And, it's even possible to have TWO slices and not EVEN feel guilty! 

And, right off the bat, a HUGE "thank you!!" to Ally at A Girl and Her Fork who had a giveaway a few weeks back when I WON a really groovy OXO hand-held slicer.  Thank you, Ally!  This slicer made quick work of my apples and was SO EASY to use.  My "old" mandoline required a lot more counter space and more cleanup.  No changing out blades with this OXO slicer which is a whole lot safer in my book!

This tart is laced ever so slightly with Amaretto, the Italian almond liqueur.  I joked on Facebook a few weeks ago that I was working my way through the Italian liqueurs....Seems like I don't need to joke anymore.  I'm fully ENTRENCHED in Italian liqueurs with utter abandonment it seems.  I'm okay with this Italian liqueur entrenchment...All the more reason to become Italian!

For those foodies out there, frangipane is a French almond filling used in all sorts of fruit tarts.  Martha's frangipane tart was made with poached pears, but who has time to poach pears?  A galette is a French tart of fruit, typically a free-formed tart (AKA rustic) with thinly sliced fruit arranged over a frangipane or custard filling.  Or, sometimes the fruit is its own show piece!

I know you'll love this tart.  Easy to make, easy to eat, and easy to share with your favorite Italian.  YUM!

Rustic, no?  

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bourbon and Orange Babka

Babka for your Babka!  It's Mother's Day and all over the world folks are eating and laughing and thanking their mother's for all sorts of things.  Birth, learning to cook, love of reading, surfing, sewing, mountain biking, making a good cocktail, fashion, laughter, you get the idea.  Moms, it's your day. 

Babka is the Polish word for Grandmother.  Babka is a polish sweet yeast bread that is SUPER EASY to make...If I can make it, you certainly can.  This recipe is easy and full proof as it comes from King Arthur Flour.  If you've never checked out their website, go there and fast!   I highly recommend the catalogue, too.  It's almost like reading a baking magazine and has lots and lots of great tools and ingredients. 

So, for all those moms I know out there and Babkas all over the world: Happy Mother's Day!!
A truly American version of a Polish Babka with
Mildly Sweet and Very Smooth...Yeah.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fig and Hazelnut Tart with Frangelico

Sweet and nutty, laced with Frangelico with a crunchy top and creamy center...Just my kind of Sunday treat to end my weekend on a happy note.  This is a Bakewell tart and legend has it that the source is English and the buttery spongy center is much like a frangipane.  My recipe comes from inspiration from my friend, and fellow blogger, Susan at My Mother's Apron Strings and her recipe for Bakewell Tart.  Susan is an amazing baker and I know that recipes she shares are tried and true.  Just like her!  :-)

I wanted to make something with Frangelico, the Italian hazelnut liqueur that I first discovered in my mid 20s while on a business trip in Seattle.  There were a bunch of us working up at Boeing facilities and dinner out was always an adventure.  We discovered a great Italian restaurant that served Frangelico warmed in a small snifter.  Such elegance, such warmth...We always slept well after a long day at work, a great dinner, much laughter and our Frangelicos.  Ah, those were the days!

I have never roasted and removed the skins from hazelnuts.  I'm not really sure whether I will do that again, although the pay-off is pretty damn sweet!

I hope you try this tart.  It's really easy and you can make it in all sorts of combinations...Some of the few that Susan and I discovered: strawberry or raspberry jam with almonds and Chambord and peach or apricot with almonds and Amaretto.  Choose your favorite jam, nut and liqueur and you're sure to please just about anyone! 

(P.S. I've learned to make collages on PicMonkey...Yay!  I would very much like to thank Ashton at Something Swanky for her AWESOME tutorial.  Very Cool!!!)

I'm sharing this over at Cake of the Week's Baking with Spirit Challenge for May: Fruit and Alcohol (booze or hootch around these parts...). Please visit Janine's blog to see ever more great baking creations with booze! 

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Banana Rum Toffee Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Whim Baking...Are you familiar with the concept?  You see a recipe: make note.  You have, yet again, too many ripe bananas: an idea.  And, a thus: a whim.  I found this recipe via CrazyForCrust's facebook post with a link to InsideBruCrewLife's blog.  Kinda like, telephone or some sort of blogger 3rd cousin.  I don't know.  Anywho, two very cool bloggers, two very cool bakers. 

I heavily modified BCL's recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana Cake with Honey Peanut Butter Frosting.  Well, if that didn't sound superwonderfulfabulous, I don't know what could.   The honey, oh honey...And, the peanutsssss

I will be honest, here among friends...I'm not a superfan of the chocolate banana thing...Just tried the chocolate pumpkin thing (great bread, Melanie!).  And, fruit and chocolate, well, just aren't my thing.  I never liked the See's Candy with the fruit centers.  I STILL don't. 

I'm a caramel kinda gal.  Love the peanut and chocolate thing.  I mean, who HASN'T broken up their chocolate Easter bunny and dipped it in Jif?  No?  Okay, you need to live a bit more...

And, a Snicker Bar has been know to rock my world from time-to-time...Not to mention the copious number of peanut butter and banana sandwiches consumed in my college days.

So, a little secret of mine is that these little Heath Toffee Bits are soooo good.  In the past, as I could rarely find them, I had only used these bits of toffee heaven in my Christmas cookies.  The great news is that Walmart has them every single time I go!  And, I had been hoarding them for so long that I had TWO bags!  Toffee Bit Jackpot!!!

Bananas, Toffee Bits, EASY yellow cake mix, Myers Rum and Peanut Butter Frosting...


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