Homebakers Collective July Challenge: Bake Your State

A little bit fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge, Pie

Iowa Cherry Pie

I have moved around too much to feel ownership of any state other than the state I was raised in. Iowa means a lot of things to me, but dessert-wise, it has to be pie, and cherry pie in particular. It was my birthday request every year as a kid. I remember when the cherries on the tree were ready, everyone would get together to pick them, then gather around the porch table armed with bobby pins to pit the cherries. Cherry juice would run down your forearms to your elbows until you were so sticky you had to hose off.

Pie Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter (115g), cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup lard (70g), cup into pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice water

Combine flour, salt and sugar in food processor. Add butter and lard and pulse until the butter pieces are no larger than peas. Add ice water and pulse until dough just comes together, about 5 times.

Divide dough into two pieces, shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Cherry Pie Filling:

  • 2 pounds sour pie cherries, thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 almond extract

Drain cherries, reserving liquid – you should have a little more than 1 cup. Place cherries in a medium bowl.

Combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Gradually add reserved cherry liquid and lemon juice, whisking until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick and clear. Remove from heat, stir in butter and almond extract. Pour over cherries and stir to combine. Sneak a taste here.

Assemble and Bake:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out each pie crust between two pieces of wax paper, peeling the paper and flipping the crust over to make rolling easier and uniform.

Line pie plate with bottom crust. Refrigerate until ready to use. Cut top crust into strips, if you’re doing the lattice. On a square of wax paper, prepare the lattice by weaving the strips together, starting with the longest pieces in the middle and working outwards. Sandwich the lattice crust with another piece of wax paper and refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm it up. Pour prepared cherry filling into bottom crust. Brush the edges with egg wash. Peel one piece of wax off the lattice and gently flip it over onto the pie, trying to get it centered. Crimp the pie and trim the excess pastry.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cherries are bubbling.

Look-No-Further Zucchini Bread

Bread, Muffins, Unfussy

This time of year I usually blindly pick a zucchini bread recipe to make from an online source or a cookbook so I can scratch the itch. I make it once, decide it’s not my favorite, and wait until next year to try again. This time I tested a few, tweaked the one I liked, and finally settled on this recipe. Moist, simple, not ridiculously sweet, with plenty of zucchini (in this case, the yellow variety).

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • 2 cups (250g) shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 8.5×4.5″ loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars, eggs, coconut oil and vanilla. Pour over flour mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until just moistened.

Fold in shredded zucchini until uniform and all the flour has been incorporated. The batter will be stiff.

Scrape into prepared pan – it should fill the loaf pan 3/4 of the way up.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Tent loosely with foil and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes, until no longer doughy in the middle.

Let cool 10 minutes in the pan before turning out.

Makes one loaf. Makes fine muffins too.

Homebakers Collective June Challenge: Lamination

Breakfast, Fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge

Apricot Cream Cheese Danish

This recipe was from Joanne Chang’s Pastry Love cookbook – I recommend it. She opened her first bakery, Flour, a block away from our Boston apartment and it was such a treat to walk across the park and get something tasty.

I substituted apricots for figs, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly (with one exception- I let the dough rest overnight, instead of the 3-hour maximum it suggested). These turned out deliciously sweet, tart and buttery. I do have danish pastry leftover in the freezer, waiting for me, which isn’t a bad thing.

Jammy Bars

Cookies, Unfussy

This is an excellent use of any tasty jam you have sitting in your fridge for a little too long. The peach rosemary jam I had from last year was lovely.

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Streusel:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 TBSP butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups jam

Make Crust: Place all ingredients in the food processor. Process in long pulses until the dough is just formed, stopping and scraping the bowl when necessary. Remove dough from bowl and pat into a rough square.

Place dough between layers of wax paper and roll out to approximately 9×13″ and 1/4″ thick. Lightly grease a quarter-sheet pan or 9×13″ pan. Place the dough in the pan – the dough is forgiving and you can press it around to make it as even as possible.

Place dough in freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Make Streusel: In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugars, salt and cinnamon. Cut the butter into tablespoons and work into the flour mixture with your fingers until clumps form. Toss with vanilla and set aside.

Assemble and Bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1 1/4 cups jam evenly over the dough in the prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the streusel becomes light brown. Let cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.

White Whale Monster Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

Anyone that grew up in Iowa City will tell you that the monster cookie at Cookies & More in the Old Capitol Mall is the all-time greatest cookie. I have been testing monster cookie recipes for years trying to crack the code. I finally got it (it’s not an oatmeal cookie with peanut butter, it’s a peanut butter cookie with oatmeal). My sister-in-law, Katherine, tested the recipe and said the only thing it lacks is awkward adolescence and the mall smell.

If using Jif/Skippy peanut butter instead of natural peanut butter, add an extra 1/2 cup quick oats to the recipe.

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups M&Ms

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugars and honey together until very light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, until the mixture is uniform in color.

Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scrape bowl.

Sift flour, soda, powder and salt and add to mixer. Stir until well combined, scrape bowl and mix well. Add oats and chocolate chips and mix well, scraping if necessary. You CAN mix in the M&Ms at this point, but if you want to be able to see them perfectly on top, reserve M&Ms until you have scooped the cookies.

Using about 3 TBSP of dough per mound, scoop the dough into mounds on a cookie sheet or plate that you can fit in your refrigerator to chill. Press 5-6 M&Ms onto the top of each mound. Chill at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer cookie dough balls to a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced about 3″ apart (you can roll them slightly into a more uniform ball at this point if you are into that sort of thing). Press each cookie down to flatten slightly.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are starting to brown. The center will look slightly under-baked. Cool completely on cookie sheets- they will fall apart if you try to remove them too quickly, but will firm up as they cool.

Repeat with remaining dough, or freeze dough balls and bake on demand. The cookies can be baked from frozen, you will just need to lengthen the baking time by 5 minutes or so.

Homebakers Collective May Challenge: Flatbreads

Bread, Homebakers Collective Challenge, Unfussy

SCALLION CAKES

For this month’s flatbread challenge I decided to go with an oldie but a goodie. These popped up often on our dining table when I was a kiddo. They are a breeze to throw together, and usually disappear as quickly as they come off the griddle.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 TBSP chopped scallions
  • 2 TBSP chopped cilantro
  • 1 TBSP sesame oil
  • vegetable oil for frying

Combine flour, water and salt and mix until dough holds together (I like to do this in the food processor). Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes

Stir together scallions, cilantro and sesame oil.

Divide dough into 2 pieces. Roll each into an 8-inch circle. Spread each circle with half of the scallion mixture. One at a time, roll up the circle into a cylinder, hold the two ends and twist, then wind the cylinder into a coil. Flatten and roll out again into 1/4-inch thick round.

Heat a griddle that will fit the cake to medium. Pour a little vegetable oil on the griddle to coat, then fry the scallion cake until browned. Flip and fry the other side. Add more vegetable oil to the griddle and fry the second scallion cake.

Cut into wedges and serve with soy sauce, chili crisp, or hoisin.

Makes 2 cakes (you should probably double this recipe – I always do).

Strawberry Shortcake

Unfussy

Strawberry Shortcake is a no-brainer this time of year. This is a family recipe with a shortcake biscuit, slightly sweetened strawberries and whipped cream.

Strawberries:

  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 TBSP sugar (or to taste)

Biscuits:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten

Whipped cream:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Combine sliced strawberries and sugar in a bowl, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line or grease a baking sheet.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Cut in butter by hand or with food processor, until butter particles are fine. Combine milk and eggs in a liquid measuring cup. Stir into flour mixture until dough is moistened.

Turn out onto floured work surface and gently pat into a rough circle. Fold dough in half, pat into a rough circle again and fold once more.

Roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out 3-inch (or so) circles. Re-roll the scraps and cut remaining dough. You should get about 12 shortcakes.

Place on baking sheet. Brush with butter or cream and sprinkle with sugar (or graham cracker crumbs – as pictured).

Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool.

Whip heavy cream with vanilla and powdered sugar until soft peaks.

Serve each biscuit, sliced, with copious amounts of strawberries and as much whipped cream as is humanly possible.

Breakfast Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

I’ve been eating these breakfast cookies for about two weeks now. They are perfectly chewy and chock full of seeds, fruit and nuts. It’s safe to say they are a great “on-the-go” breakfast, but I wouldn’t know. I DO know that they are a great “going-nowhere-soon” breakfast.

  • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 10 dates
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup pepitas
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup assorted dried fruit (raisins, craisins, cherries, blueberries, chopped apricots, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast walnuts until lightly browned for about 8-10 minutes. Let cool.

Combine almond butter and dates in a food processor and process until pureed. Add coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla and process until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand in a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in oats, toasted walnuts, pepitas, coconut, chia and sesame seeds, dried fruit.

Add the pureed mixture to the oat mixture and stir until well combined. Let sit 30 minutes.

Using about 1/3 cup of dough for each ball, scoop onto lined or greased baking sheets, leaving about an inch between cookies. Flatten each cookie slightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until just starting to brown on the edges. Let cool completely.

These keep well for a week. Or you can freeze the scooped cookie dough balls for up to a month.

Rhubarb Crisp

Unfussy

There’s no excuse to not make rhubarb crisp right now. This recipe is also known as “Brian’s Rhubarb Crisp” because it is my dad’s favorite and he makes it several times every Spring.

  • 4+ cups rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar

Topping:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together rhubarb, flour and sugar. Place in a greased 8″ square baking dish.

Stir together flour, cinnamon, brown sugar and oats. Add melted butter and stir until the mixture is moistened and starts to clump together. Sprinkle over rhubarb.

Bake at 375 for 45-55 minutes, until bubbling in the center.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Pie, Unfussy

This is a family favorite – sweet custard under tart rhubarb with a healthy dose of nutmeg.

  • 3 cups diced rhubarb
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 TBSP flour
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, sugar, flour and nutmeg. Whisk eggs and cream together in a small bowl. Pour egg mixture over rhubarb mixture and stir well to combine.

Pour into pie shell. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the custard is set.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.