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by Heather Harris Brady

Sorry I missed my second post last week. Everyone was sick, even the dog.

If well-chilled this pretty cake slices neatly into three layers – a moist banana cake on the bottom with mini chips, a layer of salted caramel frosting and a thin layer of ganache on top to tie it all together. I like to bake it in a 13 x 9 pan but you could bake it in layers if you like, putting the caramel in the middle and the ganache on top instead.

Salted Caramel Banana Cake, Makes one 13″ x 9″ cake

For the cake:

  • 1 stick (1/2 c.) butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. mashed banana
  • 1 6 oz. container of yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • 2-1/4 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 c. semisweet mini-chips

For the caramel frosting:

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 t. vinegar
  • 1 t. coarse salt
  • 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • 4 T. soft butter
  • 2-1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1-2 T. heavy cream

For the ganache:

  • 1 c. dark or semisweet chips
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 t. vanilla

First, the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and the sugars.

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Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat until light.

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Mash the banana well with a fork.

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Add the banana and the dry ingredients. Beat well.

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Beat in the yogurt, then the chips.

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Spread the batter in a well-greased 13 x 9 pan.

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Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch.

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While the cake is baking make the salted caramel:

Combine the sugar, water and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a quick boil.

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As the syrup starts to turn a golden brown remove it from the heat.

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Quickly whisk in the cream. It will bubble and look like this:

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Stir in the salt and set the caramel aside to cool.

Beat the butter and powdered sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat to a thick frosting. Then beat in half of your cooled caramel. (Save the other half of the caramel for drizzling over the top or on the serving plates.)

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Set the frosting aside and start the ganache:

Combine the cream and the chips in a saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until smooth. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Set it aside to cool.

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If your cake layer is now cool to the touch spread the caramel frosting over the top.

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Put it in the refrigerator until the frosting is set. Then spread the ganache on top.

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Add a sprinkle of sea salt so it’s extra pretty.

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If you don’t mind soft frosting you can store the cake on the counter. But it will slice cleaner if you keep it in the fridge.

One year ago: Chocolate Mint Cookies


 

 

 

 

 

 

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by Heather Harris Brady

Top off that cup of coffee or tea before you start this one, because it’s probably one of the longest single posts I’ve ever done. But if you haven’t worked with a brioche dough before I wanted to give you clear directions. I set out on this endeavor with the idea to make butterhorns, however, things took a turn. I was looking for something buttery but not pound-of-butter-for-30-pastries buttery.

This recipe makes a half-sheet pan of coffeecake, it also freezes well so you could bake it in two smaller pans if you like. It is also satisfying buttery yet lighter with only 1/4 lb. of butter. I based this recipe off Nick Malgieri’s brioche recipe in How to Bake. I’d highly recommend a large standing mixer with a dough hook too. But if you succeed in making this by hand you’ll be on your way to the arms of a goddess.

Brioche Coffeecake, Makes one half-sheet pan (About 24 generous servings)

  • 2 pkg. quick rise yeast
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1-1/2 c. flour
  • Three eggs
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2-3/4 c. flour
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Cinnamon sugar: 1 T. cinnamon + 3/4 c. sugar
  • Egg wash: Two eggs, beaten well in a bowl and set aside
  • One cup of 1-2-3-4 Streusel (see basics, above)
  • Simple Icing: 1 c. milk, 1 T. butter, 1 T. cream

First make a sponge by combining the first three ingredients.

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Set it aside for 30 minutes.

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Turn the sponge into your mixer bowl and add the sugar, flour and eggs. Put on the dough hook.

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Beat on medium until well mixed.

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Add the butter. The dough may separate at first but keep beating on medium.

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Keep going for at least five minutes. The finished dough should look like this:

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Set it aside until doubled in bulk. See all these lacy strands? They’re going to give us our light lacy texture.

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Punch the dough down on a well-floured countertop. I apologize for these photos. The sun comes into my kitchen at a funny angle this time of year.

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Roll it out into a large rectangle about 1/2″ thick.

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Paint it well with egg wash.

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Cover it the egg with the cinnamon sugar.

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Now fold the long sides in.

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Give the top another coat of egg wash.

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And fold it on top of itself like so:

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Time to preheat the oven to 375! Cut the roll into 1″ thick slices and lay them on a lightly greased baking sheet. They will slide around a little bit and get wonky because of the egg wash but that’s okay.

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Sprinkle the tops with streusel.

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Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the edges are a pretty brown.

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Let the coffeecake cool while you stir up the icing. When the top is no longer warm to the touch drizzle it well with icing.

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Cut into pieces, or pull it apart, and serve!

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Lightly cover any leftovers. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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One year ago: Chocolate Almond Torte

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by Heather Harris Brady

Stateside we are all deep in the heart of football tailgating season, and these little appetizers are a yummy yet healthier alternative to the usual array of greasier fare. (But if you want something REALLY cheesy the cheese fondue at the end of this post is great with fresh apple slices.)

These cups are low in fat and you could swap out the flatbread for a gluten-free option too!  To save time you could use a cooked rotisserie chicken from the market. These are two-bite size, and the recipe is based on one from Men’s Health magazine. You can make the cups and the filling a day ahead and assemble them right before serving.

Chicken Fajita Appetizers, Makes about 36 mini appetizers

  • 1 c. steamed sweet corn, cooled
  • 1 c. cooked chicken, cut in small dice
  • 1 small can of black beans, washed
  • 3/4 c. salsa (your choice)
  • 1/2 c. non-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 c. finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pkg. sundried tomato flatbread

Combine the first six ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir and refrigerate (for up to a day in advance).

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Make the cups: Preheat the oven to 400 and lightly grease a mini-muffin pan (or several if you want to do them all at once). Cut the flatbread into 2-1/2″ rounds, and press them into the pan.

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Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until crisp. Turn the cups out and cool them on racks. Store them in a ziplock bag if you’re not using them right away.

To serve, add a tablespoon of filling to each cup.

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One year ago: Cheese Fondue

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by Heather Harris Brady

This is a great bread for toast and should any of it hang around long enough to get dry it also makes incredible bread pudding. It slices nicely thick or thin. I like to rub the hot crust with butter to keep it soft and add extra flavor. My grandmother used to keep empty butter wrappers on hand for that part, they usually have just enough butter left on them!

Cinnamon Bread, Makes two small loaves or one large loaf

  • 2 c. milk or 1 c. milk/1 c. water
  • ½ c. mashed potato flakes or leftover mashed potatoes
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1/2 c. wheat germ
  • 4-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 T. flour

Scald the milk and stir in the butter and mashed potato flakes. When the milk has cooled to lukewarm stir in the yeast and 3 T. sugar, followed by the flour. Set the dough aside to rise until doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a floured worksurface. Knead for about five minutes, until the dough is soft and no longer sticky.

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Divide it in half.

Take one half and roll it out into a large rectangle (about 11 x 17), ½” thick.

 

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Stir the last three ingredients together in a bowl.

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Spread half of the cinnamon mixture across the dough, then roll it up like a jelly roll.

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Place it seam side down in a greased loaf pan.

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Repeat with the second half of the dough if you’re making two loaves.

Preheat the oven to 375 and let the bread rise until doubled.

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Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when you tap the top. Take them out and rub butter over the hot crust. Let the pans sit for about five minutes.

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Turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

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Wrap in plastic wrap to store.

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One year ago: Dobos Torte

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by Heather Harris Brady

Since it’s getting to be rainy cold and flu season here’s a hot dish to help ward off any flagging spirits. It’s a great dish to make your own, by adjusting the seasoning, adding herbs or cheese to the biscuits, whatever. My grandmother could really get mileage out of a stewing chicken. She’d poach it, use the stock, use some of the meat as it. Any meat leftover would get dredged in seasoned flour and crisped up in butter.

This recipe will likely leave you with some extra chicken and a few extra plain biscuits, do with them what you will. In any case, dishes don’t get more comforting than this one.

Farmhouse Chicken and Biscuits, Six generous servings

  • One whole stewing chicken, about two pounds
  • One cup of baby carrots
  • Three potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ½ a medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 c. chicken stock
  • 2 T. cornstarch stirred into 1/3 c. dry cooking sherry
  • Seasonings to taste: bay leaves, cracked black pepper, etc.
  • 1-3/4 c. regular all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2/3 c. milk

Poach the chicken. I find a crockpot works amazingly well. Wash the chicken and remove any giblets. Place the chicken in the crockpot with one cup of water, cover and cook on low about four hours.

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The chicken is done when the breast meat pulls easily from the bone.

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At some point while the chicken is poaching boil the potatoes until they are crisp-tender, repeat with the carrots. Rinse them under cold water, drain and set them aside. (You can cook them in stock if you want too.)

Separate the chicken, reserving any stock from the crockpot.

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Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a saucepan and saute the onion until soft.

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Add the stock from the crockpot and as much as additional as you need to bring it to three cups. Just eye-ball it, doesn’t need to be exact. Add the bay leaf and seasonings, simmer for about five minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and whisk until thickened.

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Set aside and preheat the oven to 375.

Lightly grease a three-quart casserole dish and line the bottom with the potatoes, followed by the carrots.

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Dice the poached chicken to cover the vegetables and pour the thickened stock over the top.

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Set the dish aside while you make the biscuits.

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Combine the flour and baking powder, then cut in the butter. Stir in the milk quickly, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead it for five-six quick turns. Roll it out to ½” thick and cut into rounds. You can reroll the extras.

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Gently lay the rounds on top of the casserole to cover it completely and set the casserole dish on a baking sheet just in case it bubbles over.

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You can put any extra biscuits on the sheet too.

Slide the casserole into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the biscuits are brown on top and the sauce is bubbling.

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Serve hot. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

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One year ago: Cream Cheese Coffeecake

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by Heather Harris Brady

I fear these are the season’s last peaches even though I’m not ready to say goodbye. The only thing I could do was send them off in grand style, in this peach upside-down cake. I’ve tinkered with several recipes to come up with this one. The result is a light, yet silky cake topped with a tender peaches in a lovely brown-sugar sauce that runs down the side in a pretty way. Use the deepest dish you have for this one. I used a glass pie dish so you could see it come out of the oven, but you want something about 3″ deep.

The mixing method is unorthodox, but it works out.

Peach Upside Down Cake, Makes one 9″ deep-dish cake

Cake:

  • 1 -1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 6 T. soft butter
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. almond extract
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 c. nonfat plain yogurt

Topping:

  • Four-five ripe peaches
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 3 T. butter
  • 2/3 c. packed light brown sugar

Clean and slice the peaches, toss them with the lemon juice and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine the first six cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend to coarse crumbs.

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Beat the eggs with the extracts and add them to batter along with the yogurt. Beat on high for two minutes, to a thick creamy batter.

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Grease your baking dish and line the bottom with the peaches. Take time to make them pretty, since it’s going to show!

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I put some cinnamon on at this point, ’cause that’s how I do. But you can skip it if you want.

Make the topping: heat the butter and brown sugar over medium, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour it over the peaches in the dish.

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Top it with the cake batter.

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Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the cake is firm in the center.

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There might be little cracks where the sauce and peaches have marbled through.

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While the cake is still warm, flip it out onto a serving plate – with AUTHORITY. Show it who’s boss.

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Serve warm or at room temperature. This cake cuts into pretty slices.

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Store leftovers lightly covered in the fridge.

One year ago: Heirloom Tomato Pizza

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by Heather Harris Brady

We had some colds in the house over the past few days so major comfort food was in order. We’ve done apple pie, so I was looking for a twist on that idea when I found this. It was just what the chef-doctor ordered. In Dorie Greenspan’s Baking cookbook, one of my go-to’s, it’s called Russian Grandmother’s Apple Pie. With its sugar-cookie style crust in place of the traditional pie crust, it bakes up into a cuddly cakey-pie. I like to use a blend of apples in pies, here I used Ginger Gold and Macintosh fresh from the local farm market. Ms. Greenspan recommends making the dough ahead of time. I made mine one day ahead. I think you could get away with a quick chill in the freezer for a few hours if you’re pressed for time.

Apple Pie Babushka, Makes one deep dish 9″ pie

One stick of unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
One large egg
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 T. lemon juice
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour plus additional as needed
5 medium apples
1/4 c. sugar
1-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

2 T. flour

Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the egg, then the baking powder and salt.

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Add half the flour, the lemon juice and then the rest of the flour.

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Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375. Flour a work surface WELL, and break off about two-thirds of the dough.

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Roll it out and fit it into your pie pan. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour on the counter. I did.

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Pat it even if need be. Put it in the refrigerator while you do the apples.

Peel and slice the apples, toss them with the cinnamon, sugar and flour.

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Pile them into the crust. I try to arrange them so they are dense, minimizing any large gaps.

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Roll out the remaining dough and cover the pie. It will be thin and there will probably be holes but again, that’s okay! Just bake it for about 65 minutes, until the apples are tender all the way through.

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See? The holes in the top make it pretty!

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Serve warm or cool. It should slice neatly.

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Store leftovers in the refrigerator, lightly covered.

One year ago: Peach Melba Pie, with a Lattice Crust

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by Heather Harris Brady

In my mind’s eye lately I’ve been thinking about a thick-ish oatmeal type bar cookie with fruit in the center, so when I saw this recipe I had to try it. These are probably one of the weirdest cookies I’ve ever made, but they are really delicious. There are thin apple slices between two layers of oatmeal cookie and they bake up into a soft, moist chewy slice. You can add a 1/2 c. of chopped pecans or walnuts to these, but I left them out. Use the driest apple you can find for the inside.

I used a few Macintosh and after about six hours the cookies started getting soft so I had to put them in the refrigerator. This recipe is from Maida Heatter’s Great American Cookies cookbook, where they are called Johnny Appleseed Cookies. If you know someone who loves apple pie they will love these cookies!

Oatmeal Apple Cookie-Slices, Makes about 40

  • 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 2/3 c. light brown sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2-3 firm cooking apples

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the first six ingredients in a mixing bowl.

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Beat in the butter, egg and vanilla.

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Line a 10″ baking pan with foil and grease the foil generously. Press half of the oatmeal mixture into a thin layer across the pan.

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Cover it with a layer of thin apple slices.

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Then roll out the rest of the oatmeal mixture between two pieces of waxed paper.

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Remove the top piece of waxed paper. Flop the oatmeal sheet over the pan and carefully peel back the waxed paper.

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It is super-thin and it might tear in spots (like mine did in the bottom left corner). Just patch it and put it into the oven for about 25 minutes. Everything will be okay, see?

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The dough bakes up into a pretty chewy, crackly oatmeal cookie.

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When it’s cooled cut the sheet into bars.

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These are best eaten the day they’re made in my opinion, but you can store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

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One year ago: Quick Fruit Turnovers

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by Heather Harris Brady

I’m under the weather this week with a cold so I’m going to keep this post short today. If you haven’t had this style of pizza before think of it as the toppings upside down on a yeasty, biscuity crust. If you start the crust mid-afternoon you can have pizza for dinner. If you don’t have San Marzano tomatoes for the topping, sub in a THICK pizza sauce. If you don’t have a 14″ pan just divide the dough in half and make two smaller pizzas in 8″ pans.

Chicago Style Pizza, Makes one 14″ pizza

3¼ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. yellow cornmeal
1½ t. salt
2 t. sugar
2¼ t. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1¼ c. water, room temperature
3 T. unsalted butter , melted, plus 4 T., softened
1 t. plus 2 T. olive oil

Sauce:

  • One 14 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 t. dried basil
  • 1 T. minced garlic

Toppings:

  • Roasted vegetables
  • Browned sausage
  • Pepperoni
  • One 8 oz. pkg. shredded Italian cheese blend

Combine the water, sugar and yeast. When the yeast starts to bubble stir in the flour, salt, cornmeal, and melted butter. Let rise until doubled in bulk.

Punch down the dough and knead it until smooth, about five minutes. Roll it out into a large rectangle and spread it with the soft butter. Fold it in thirds onto itself, like you would fold a letter. Roll it out again and repeat the folds, then roll out one more time.

Preheat the oven to 475. Grease your pan(s) well with olive oil. Lay the dough in the pans and prick it all over with a fork. Drizzle with olive oil.

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Bake for 10 minutes.

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This is where it gets weird. Put the meat on the bottom, next to the crust. Then top it with the roasted vegetables. I’m using Swiss chard, red peppers, and green peppers.

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Cover the pizza with the cheese.

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Then crush the tomatoes and combine them with the garlic and basil. Spoon them over the cheese.

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Bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes.

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Cut the pizza into slices and serve hot.

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by Heather Harris Brady

This was our dessert for Sunday family dinner, a request from darling daughter. For my readers around the world, Boston cream pie is a bit of a misnomer in that it’s not a pie at all – it’s a yellow cake with cream pie filling and a chocolate glaze – sort of like an eclair in cake form. It’s also the official dessert of the great state of Massachusetts. It’s been around a long time, it showed up on a Boston hotel menu in 1879.

You can make the filling and glaze ahead, or while the cake is baking, as time allows. I’m not giving a step-by-step for the filling, since I’ve covered that multiple times. (If you want to review the method search coconut cream pie or chocolate pudding.) I prefer splitting one layer, because I like a larger ratio of filling to cake, but you can double the cake batter if you want two full layers with the filling in between.

Boston Cream Pie, Makes one 8″ “pie”, eight generous servings

Cake

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1-2/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. milk

Vanilla pastry cream (filling)

  • 2 c. rich milk (you can use half and half too)
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. butter

Chocolate ganache (glaze)

  • 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. butter

Preheat the oven to 350. Make the cake batter:

Cream the butter and the sugar together well, beat in the eggs one at a time.

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Beat in the vanilla, baking powder and 1/2 of the flour. Beat in the milk and then beat in the rest of the flour. You should have a thick, creamy batter.

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Line an 8″ cake pan with parchment and grease. Spread the batter into the pan.

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Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch.

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Turn onto a rack and cover it with a tea towel. Let it cool completely.

To make the filling:

Heat the milk over medium. Combine the cornstarch and sugar, whisk into the milk. Stir constantly until thickened. Beat the eggs well in a bowl. Stir in a large spoonful of the thickened milk into the eggs, stir, and then add the eggs into the pan on the stove. Cook for another two minutes until bubbly and thick. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and butter. Pour into a dish, cover with plastic wrap and cool completely in the fridge.

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To make the glaze:

Warm the cream in a pan over medium heat. Add the chips. Stir constantly until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and vanilla. Set aside to cool.

To assemble:

Turn the cake onto your serving dish and split the layer in half with a sharp knife.

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If you go around the edges first, then through the middle you can avoid some of the raggedy edges (don’t be like me).

Spoon the cold filling onto the split layer.

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Put the top back on and glaze it.

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Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before serving. Dipping a knife in cold water will help give you clean slices.

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bostoncream9_little-house-dunes

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Keep the cake cold and store any leftovers in the refrigerator. The cake will keep, refrigerated for two or three days, but it never lasts that long at our house!
One year ago: Fresh Blueberry Pancakes

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October 2014
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