Tag Archives: summer

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
Printer Friendly Version 

Ingredients…
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.

Directions… 

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

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
Printer Friendly Recipe

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

Directions…

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!

Summer Caprese Salad

29 Jun

Summer brings so many great things – fireflies, watermelon, beach days, sun tea, thunderstorms and…

juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes.  Is there anything better?

I wait all winter long for them… for the traditional Fierstein cheese and tomato sandwich (Grandma makes it best), for homemade pico de gallo, for cherry tomato snacks.

One of my favorite ways to eat them, though, is in a simple caprese salad.  For this one, I used yellow heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil (grown in the backyard, of course.  Okay, that’s Mom.  We all know I’m not a gardener).  A little drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a few cracks of pepper.

The end result is an appetizer (or, sometimes dinner) that is the essence of summer.

And don’t forget the bread.  You want to soak up that deliciousness!

What’s your favorite summer dish?

It Is Easy Being Green

19 Aug

As promised, new sugar cookie designs from my Vermont cookie cutter finds!

The frogs were the ones I was most excited to design – obviously I didn’t wait too long to get to work on them!  I love how they turned out.  The green dots, the little grin and the beady eyes make them so cute.

Don’t they look like they are up to something?

As for the turtles, I was a little skeptical as they were drying (as I am most of the time).  This morning though, I was so excited.  I love the different variations.  The full shell designs have great texture and the polka dot guy is pretty darn cute.

Who wouldn’t love those little smiles?!?

Either design would be great for a little boy’s birthday party.  These would also be fun for spring and summer backyard gatherings.

As always, the cookies can be customized with names, numbers or phrases.

Speaking of… stay tuned for another turtle design.  All I’ll say is “Fear the turtle!”


Flavor Focus: Kissed by the Orange Sun

18 Aug

Grandma used to make an orange bundt cake that was a summertime family favorite.  For simplicity sake, she used a boxed cake (sorry Grandma, the secret’s out!), added orange juice in lieu of the water and baked.  For the frosting, she made a homemade orange buttercream that incorporated orange juice, orange rind and the other usual suspects – 10X sugar (as Grandma calls it) and butter.

As a nod to Grandma’s original creation, and as a way for the rest of us to enjoy this old favorite, I set out to make a cupcake version (from scratch, of course!).

My orange buttercream, the star of this cupcake, gets the fresh, sweet and tangy flavor from the fresh squeezed orange juice and the orange rind, just like Grandma’s.  Mine also has a bit of honey (surprise!), which not only adds a bit of natural sweetness, but also helps with the light and fluffy consistency.  This sits on top of my classic vanilla bean cupcake – the perfect pairing.

As one recent taster noted,  this could be eaten for breakfast.  Go ahead, no one’s going to tell!

Perfect Pairing: summer time cookout, pool party, girl’s luncheon, brunch treat

Look What I Found!!!

12 Aug

Hope you didn’t miss Kristina’s Confections too much!

I just got back from a trip to Vermont to see my best friend (Jess) and her family (including my main man!!!).  It was an amazing week away – as it always is – filled with lots of fun Vermont things.

One of the highlights was picking our own berries at a local organic farm.  We made jam and canned the product for a sweet treat all winter long (and I do mean sweet… do you know how much sugar goes in jam?  I’ll spare you the shocking amount!).

Who knows, maybe one of these jams will find their way into a new cupcake…

One of the other highlights was our trip to King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont.  I have been using King Arthur Flour pretty much since the beginning of Kristina’s Confections.  I love the fact I can find it in bulk, I love the company story and, most importantly, I love the way it bakes.

I could have spent hours in The Baker’s Shop & Cafe looking at all the fun products – flours, sugars, whisks, aprons… and cookie cutters galore!

Look for some of these new shapes – turtle, frog, car, jersey, pig – in the coming weeks!

The Beginning – Part 2: ‘Tis the Cookout Season

30 Jul

My mom went to a cookout a few weeks after the birthday celebration and asked if I would make some cupcakes for her to take.  I didn’t just want to replicate the chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, so I set out to find something unique for summer.

I found a peach cupcake with brown sugar frosting from Smitten Kitchen and it was settled.

The delicate cake, mixed with chunks of fresh peaches and topped with a just sweet enough buttercream was perfect for a summer cookout.  It was a huge hit, especially with the adults.  I didn’t know it at the time, but, with a few tweaks, my first seasonal flavor was born.

Testing the flavors and tweaking the frosting for this summer treat confirmed my ability to develop sweet flavors…


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