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French Yogurt Cake… Fresh Baked Friday!

19 Aug

Two summers ago I found myself searching for a job, living back home and looking for something to get me out of bed in the morning.  In an attempt to fill my days, I stumbled upon this world, this blog world.  I’d heard about it, but spent little time looking around.  

Well, it didn’t take long for me to get hooked.  In fact, as of today, I subscribe to 75 blogs in my Google reader and write my own blog (I know, duh!).  Needless to say, I spend more time then I care to admit reading, researching and looking at blogs.

What’s your point, Kristina?  Well, one of the first blogs I stumbled upon two summers ago was Tuesdays with Dorie, a blog of bloggers (say that ten times fast!) baking their way through the esteemed Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours.  Although I didn’t have a blog at the time, I started playing along.  I baked with them once a week.  It gave me something to do.  Plus, my mom’s co-workers were thrilled to eat the goods!

I loved it.  While I stopped baking alongside the Tuesdays with Dorie bloggers, I do check-in from time to time.  As for the cookbook?  Well that gets plenty of use…

A few weeks ago, I was looking for a light, summer, citrusy cake.  I immediately went to Dorie and, as usual, she did not steer me wrong.

Tender crumb, moist cake, hint of lemon.  Absolute summer perfection.  

Oh, and it gets better after a day or two.  Love that.

French Yogurt Cake
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1 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour* (or, if you prefer, just use another 1/2 cup of flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil 

*You can make almond flour by grinding almonds to a fine powder.  You can also buy it from specialty stores, such as King Arthur’s Flour.


Preheat the oven to 350℉.  Generously butter a loaf pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.  Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, almond flour (if using), baking powder and salt.   

Put the sugar and lemon zest in a medium bowl.  Using your fingertips, rub the zest and the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic.  Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract.  Whisk vigorously until well blended.  Whisk in the dry ingredients.  Using a spatula, fold in the oil.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan and is golden brown.  Move the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan.  Turn the cake out onto the rack and allow to cool completely.  Cut and enjoy!

Source:  Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan


Blueberry Crumb Cake… Fresh Baked Friday!

22 Jul

I’m a sucker for a crumb cake.  Any kind will do.

One of my first memories of Villanova is actually eating a piece of crumb cake with my mom at Holy Grounds, right before we took a tour.  And let’s just say that wasn’t the last piece of crumb cake I ate at Villanova.  Man, I miss that square piece of deliciousness.

And, yes, that is in fact the name of our on-campus coffee shop.  Get it?  Grounds has two meanings.  Boy, us Catholics sure can be cleaver.

Anyway, Mom and I went blueberry picking a couple of weeks ago and those little berries found their way into a delicious crumb cake.  This one is particularly great since it’s just slightly sweet.  And easy.  Super, super easy.

Perfect for breakfast.  Or a mid-morning snack.  Or dessert.  Your choice.

Blueberry Crumb Cake
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For the Cake…

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries

For the Crumble…

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, softened*

*I also bring my butter to room temperature when baking.  It helps the butter incorporate better.  For the crumble, you definitely don’t want to skip this step, otherwise you will have a hard time cutting it with the other ingredients.


Preheat the oven to 375F.  Prepare an 8×8 inch pan by either greasing it or lining it with parchment paper.

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and mix until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the milk.  Begin and end with the flour mixture.  Do not overbeat!

Fold in the berries and pour into the prepared pan.

Using a fork, mix together all the ingredients for the crumble.  Sprinkle over the top of the cake.  Don’t be skimpy… this is what makes a crumb cake a crumb cake.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes.  


Source:  {very} slightly adapted from Mommy Coddle

Strawberry Cake… Fresh Baked Friday!

8 Jul

Can you believe it?  I know.  FRESH BAKED FRIDAY!

Please, trust me when I say I’m trying.  I’ll get this balance thing down one of these days.  Until then… thanks for continuing to read.   And now on to the main event…

During our Charleston trip, we spent an afternoon learning to make low country cuisine at Charleston Cooks!, a great kitchen store that has a demo kitchen attached.  The meal included blackened fish, southern succotash and fresh strawberry cake.  Everything was shockingly simple and incredibly delicious.

Any guesses on which part of the meal excited me the most?  

Now, I love strawberries.  As long as they are fresh strawberries.  Strawberries baked in things?  Not so much (although I did love strawberry frosted donuts as a little girl… but that phase passed).

Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical.  Luckily, this cake was a deliciously happy surprise.

When I made the cake at home, I tweaked the recipe just a bit.  In both cases, the cake is delicate and moist, lightly sweet and kissed with a delicious strawberry taste.  Not too much, not too little.

Emily, the instructor of the class, said this was her favorite cake as a little girl.  After one bite, you’ll know why. 

Strawberry Cake
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Cake Ingredients…
1 cup sugar
½ cup canola
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange liqueur (strawberry liqueur is fine too or just omi)
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
½ cup sliced strawberries

Frosting Ingredients…
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 ounce cream cheese
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons strawberry preserves or jam (more or less to taste)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325F.  Prepare a bundt pan by generously spraying with a non-stick spray or grease with butter and dust with flour.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, vanilla, orange liqueur and eggs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  

Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the sugar mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Gently fold in the strawberries.  Be sure to not over mix!

Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan.  Bake until the cake springs back to the touch, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let the cake sit for 15 minutes in the pan.  Turn the cake onto a cooling rack.  Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.  Cream together the butter and cream cheese.  Add the powdered sugar and beat to combine.  Add the vanilla and strawberry preserves and mix until desired consistency.  Spread on cooled cake and enjoy!

Source:  Charleston Cooks!

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake – Fresh Baked Friday!

13 May

I’m going to be honest with you from the get-go – I debated whether or not to post this recipe.

As I’ve mentioned here numerous time, I’m a vanilla girl.  So, it’s no surprise, I had high hopes – perhaps too high – from the moment I saw it.  A cake loaded with vanilla beans and a hefty drizzle of a vanilla glaze.  What’s not to love?

Well, I didn’t love it.  Gasp!  Shock!  Horror!  I know.

The texture was great, but I think I wanted more vanilla.  There is a hint of lemon extract (which I debated whether or not to use as I was making the cake and went for it ) and I felt like that was the predominant flavor.  Which would have been great…  if this cake was called a vanilla lemon bundt cake.  But it’s not.

So why am I passing this along?

Well, Grandma and Granddad couldn’t stop talking about it.  Rave – I mean RAVE – reviews.  And while you might expect my grandparents to give all my baked goods rave reviews, that’s not always the case.  Plus, since they taste just about everything I bake, I know I’ve hit upon a winner when they are still talking about it a few days later.

Such was the case with the Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake.  So don’t be afraid.  Try it.  I think you’ll like it.  But one piece of advice?  Think of it as Vanilla Lemon Bundt Cake.  Then you’ll surely enjoy.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake
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3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
18 tablespoons (2 ¼ sticks) butter, room temperature
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
4 large eggs
¼ teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 cup buttermilkGlaze…
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
½ cup whole milk
1 cup confectioners sugarDirections…
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350F.  Generously butter the bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out the excess.  Alternately, generously spray the bundt pan with a nonstick baking spray.Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
Beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla bean paste and lemon extract. On low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.Pour the patter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly and smoothing the top.  Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate air bubbles.Bake until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour.  To be safe, I would start checking around the 50 minute mark.  Cool in the pan for 1 hour, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.To make the glaze, add the vanilla bean paste to the milk and let sit for a few minutes.  Sift the confectioners sugar into a large bowl.  Slowly start adding the vanilla bean milk, a tablespoon at a time.  Whisk until combined.  You want the glaze to be pourable, but still quite thick.  Continue to add the vanilla milk until you get the consistency you want.

Drizzle over the cooled cake.  Slice and enjoy!

*Next time I make this, I will omit the lemon extract and increase the vanilla bean paste to 3 tablespoons for the cake.  I’ll probably increase the vanilla bean paste in the glaze a bit as well.  Can’t hurt, right?!

Source: slightly adapted from Sweetapolita

Homemade Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers – Fresh Baked Friday!

6 May

Mom doesn’t like the taste of artificially flavored cheese items.  This, coupled with the fact she wasn’t the biggest fan of processed foods when I was growing up, meant no Cheetos, no Doritos, no Cheez Its.  I know.  The horror.

Luckily, Grandma and Granddad had no such rules.  If you wanted a snack, you just had to make sure it was added to Grandma’s list and you were home free.

So my love for Cheez Its can be directly traced back to the basement of my grandparents home in New Carrollton.  The crunchy, cheesy, salty cracker.  Really, what’s not to love?

In fact, Grandma loves them so much that, to this day, at any given time, there is at least one box of Cheez Its up for grabs.  Sometimes she even gets crazy and buys the white cheddar (although, I’m not such a fan). 

So when I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to try it.  The perfect opportunity came when I was visiting the baby in Vermont.  A homemade, whole wheat version of a traditional childhood snack?  Jess was in. 

Turns out, not only do Mr. C LOVE them, so did his dad and, wait for it… even my mom liked them!  If that’s not a testament, I don’t know what is!

Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers
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1 ½ cups (6 ounces) coarsely grated orange sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons butter
¾ cup whole wheat flour
⅛ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Run the machine until the dough forms a ball, about 2 minutes.

If the dough feels warm or too soft, wrap it in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for 30-45 minutes.  This will make it easier to transfer the shapes when they are rolled out.

On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to ⅛-inch thick.  Use your desired cookie cutter to cut out the shapes, dipping the cutter into flour from time to time.  Gently transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving about a ½ inch between each cracker.  Poke  a whole to help the crackers not puff up during baking. *

Bake the crackers on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes, or until they are barely browned at the edges.  Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.


*Next time I make these I will sprinkle a little extra salt on top of the crackers before baking, a la the original Cheez Its.

Source: slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Jumbo Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies – Fresh Baked Friday… on Monday!

18 Apr

As promised…

While I have a wicked sweet tooth, chocolate is really not my go-to.  Sure, I love a piece of dark chocolate now and then.  And I do love chocolate mousse.    

But vanilla or chocolate ice cream?  Vanilla every time.  Chocolate candy or gummy candy?  Hello, gummy bears, you are my friend.  Chocolate cake or coconut cake?  Well, you know that answer.

So I was a bit surprised myself when I starred this recipe on Annie’s Eats.  It may have been the size of each cookie.  Or, perhaps, the the description.  Either way, I was intrigued.

So, last week, I gave it a try.  It did not disappoint.  I would describe it as a cross between brownie and cookie.  It’s soft and chewy, but a bit dense.

I think the fact these were gone in no time is really a testament to how delicious they are.  Mom even ate one.  And she’s less of a chocolate lover than I am (gasp!  a taste bud commonality for once).

In fact, it just might make me a convert to chocolate cookies.

Okay, probably not.  But now my wheels are turning to see how I can make the equivalent for a simple jumbo chocolate chip cookie.  Yum!

Jumbo Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
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16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup dark cocoa powder (I used regular because that’s all I had and it was fine)
2 ¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Add the cocoa powder until well blended.  Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed until just combined.  Fold int he chocolate chips.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead briefly by hand to make sure the ingredients are well combined.

Divide the dough unto 12 equal pieces (about 4 ounces each).  Roll each portion into a ball and flatten slightly into a disc.  Place on the prepared baking sheets, a few inches apart.  Bake 16-20 minutes.

Let cool on the baking sheets 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Source: Annie’s Eats

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread – Fresh Baked Friday!

8 Apr

I think it’s time we have a little chat.  Are you okay with that?  Great.

Sometimes I get to this hour of the night – 11:30 or so – and remember I haven’t prepared a blog for tomorrow.

Oh, side note, I schedule my posts.  See, (another) truth is I’m not awake when most of you read this little blog.  Hey, are you up as I write them?  Okay then, we’re even.

Anyway, at this point, I just want to sit back finish my glass of pinot noir, watch a little rerun of The Real Housewives of New York (please, don’t act like you don’t watch) and then climb into bed.  A simple, Thursday night.  Right?

But no, I must write something witty about something tasty.  Obviously, I can’t disappoint all five of my fans.

And so, I write.  And most days, you wouldn’t be any the wiser.  But today involved my first trip to Wegman’s, a trip to Lowe’s (which is very stressful for me), a run to the post office and a big house clean.  So I am tuckered out.  And that bed is calling.

And so I write.  And so we chat.  And so this will have to do for Fresh Baked Friday.  And above all, you are now the wiser.  And I’m fully exposed.

In any event, you are still getting a delicious recipe out this. Cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread.  I’m pretty sure the name speaks for itself.

If only I had a piece or two to go with this wine and…

Look at that.  Wine is finished, show is over and I’m going to bed.  Oh, the clock now reads 12:51.  Sigh.  Maybe next week I’ll plan better.

Probably not.  Happy weekend!

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
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For the Dough…
2 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
⅓ cup whole milk
¼ cup water
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

For the Filling…
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted until browned


**Note:  When I made this, I used a bread machine to make the dough.  I plan on making the dough by hand soon and will update the directions should I make any changes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  Set aside.

Whisk together eggs and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted.  Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract.  Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture reaches 115-125F.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula.  Add the eggs and stir until incorporated.  It will feel soupy and seem like the dough is never going to come together.  Keep stirring.

Add the remaining ¾ cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes.  The mixture will be sticky.  That’s just right!

Place the dough in a large, greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

**The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning.  If you are using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling.  Set aside.

Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned.  Set aside.

Grease and flour (this is important… trust me!) a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out.  The dough should be about 12 inches high and about 20 inches long.  Don’t stress too much about this!

Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter all over the dough.  Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top.  Don’t skimp.  Use it all.  You only live once.

Slice the dough vertically into 6 equal strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stacks into 6 equal pieces.  At this point, you should have 6 stacks of 6 squares, all about the same size.  Layer the stacks into the loaf pan like a flip-book.  Pour any sugar that fell off on top.  Again, you only live once.

Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow to sit in a warm place for 30-45 minutes or until almost doubled in size (yes, again!).

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F.  Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown (it took mine closer to 45 minutes).  A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.  Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board.  Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the upside down loaf and carefully invert so it’s right side up.

Serve warm.  Trust me, makes it that much better!

Source: Joy the Baker

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