bostoncream8_little-house-dunes

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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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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by Heather Harris Brady

This a quick, easy recipe for a weekend side-dish that protein-packed yet vegetarian. It’s a pretty way to show off the little round Eight-Ball zucchini I have here, or you can use another shape.

Quinoa-Parmesan Stuffed Zucchini, Serves four as a side dish

  • Two large-size round zucchini
  • 6 oz. quinoa (any type is okay)
  • 3/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. butter
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Split and hollow the zucchini, leaving a 1/2″ wall all around.

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Steam the cleaned halves, either in the microwave or in a bamboo steamer, until just tender (about 10 minutes in a bamboo steamer).

While the zucchini is cooking, cook the quinoa if you’re not using pre-cooked grain. Drain and toss it with the butter.

Preheat the oven to 350 (or not, and use the microwave to heat the stuffed squash through).

Combine the quinoa with the cheese, and stuff each shell, mounding the stuffing slightly.

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Place the stuffed squash in a buttered baking dish or microwavable dish. Heat through until the cheese is bubbly, about 15 minutes in the oven.

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Serve hot, with a grinding of fresh pepper.
One year ago: Barbeque Sauce

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by Heather Harris Brady

If you’ve followed the blog for any bit of time you’ve encountered manifestations of my ethnic food withdrawal. We now have a food truck in TC with amazing falafel and their version inspired me to take a crack at it. I probably wouldn’t have tried a year ago, but since then I’ve become the proud owner of a rockin’ food processor (thanks Aunt Linda!) and it makes falafel a breeze.

Falafel is typically fava beans or a combination of fava and garbanzo. Go ahead and use whatever strikes your fancy. I used only garbanzo beans, because I luurve them. To make the tangy garnish I used a Lemongrass Mint Balsamic Vinegar from Fustinis:

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You can google them, they have all sorts of amazing oils and vinegars.

Falafel Flatbread Wraps

For two sandwiches:

  • One can of garbanzo beans
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • ¼ c. minced onion
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. harissa
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • Cucumber and onion slices for garnish
  • Cider or flavored vinegar
  • Your choice of hummus, 2/3 c.
  • Two flatbreads

Combine the cucumber and onion slices, cover them with the vinegar and set aside.

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Remove the skins from the garbanzo beans. Combine them in the food processor with the oil and onion.

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Process until finely chopped, add the spices and continue to process to a fine, easily packable consistency (about one minute).

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Form the paste into four oblong patties about 1.5” x 3”.

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Heat 2 T. of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the patties and brown them well on each side.

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Warm the flatbread either in the oven or microwave.

To serve, spread each flatbread with half of the hummus. I used roasted red pepper.

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Lay two falafel patties on top and garnish with the cucumber and onion.

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Wrap in foil and serve warm.

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One year ago: Raspberry Cream Cheese Danish

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by Heather Harris Brady

I have to apologize for missing last Thursday’s post. I had everything ready to go, with no excuse other than sometimes I’m a flake. The fact I’ve been so consistent up to now amazes me! Anyway, I’ll make it up to you with three posts this week instead.

Fresh huge blackberries, the like of which I haven’t seen since a trip to Oregon many years ago, inspired me to make this rolled cobbler. They were a bit pricey, so I combined them with some red raspberries to stretch them out.

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This recipe is based on one from West Coast Cooking by Helen Evans Brown, a cookbook from the days when she could write “make a rich shortcake dough”, give the ingredients and trust the cook to take it from there! I’ve made a few adjustments and given you a step-by-step. This dessert is easy and so delicious!

Fresh Blackberry Rolled Cobbler, Makes six generous servings

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/3 c. butter + 2 T.
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1 pt. mixed berries
  • Sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the flour, baking powder and sugar. Cut in the 1/3 c. butter.

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Stir together the egg and the milk, then stir them into the flour mixture.

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Knead quickly four-five times and roll out on a floured worksurface about 1/8” thick.

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Spread the dough with the 2 T. butter and sprinkle it with sugar.

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Cover the dough with the berries and sprinkle them with the cornstarch.

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Roll up like a jellyroll, cut in half and put each half in a greased loaf/bread pan. Slash the top of each roll a few times to help it bake through.

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Bake about 25 minutes or until dough is cooked through and berries are soft. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh cream.

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One year ago: Cheese Burek

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by Heather Harris Brady

All my fellow bakers out there probably understand what I’m talking about when I say I rarely make anything just to please myself. After all one of the greatest joys of baking is that you do it for other people, surprising them with the things they love. But there I was, with two rarities in my kitchen: a holiday afternoon and a can of almond paste. I’ve always been a complete pushover for anything almond, since it goes so well with tea. I’m not picky, I’ll take a storebought cookie turned out by the thousands or a handmade croissant. Despite their hefty size and appearance, these rolls are delicate with a strong almond flavor. I hope you’ll take this post as inspiration and bake something for yourself this week!

This recipe is from Beatrice Ojakangas Great Scandanavian Baking Book. It’s a slim, unassuming paperback and if you love baking you owe to yourself to get a copy. Ms. Ojakangas recommends baking these in paperlined cupcake tins, but my rolls seemed too large to fit. If you have larger muffin pans you might give those a try, as my rolls in the corners of my baking dish did rise higher than the rest.

Icelandic Almond Rolls, Makes 15 large rolls
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water
3/4 c.  half and half, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
¼ c. softened unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 c. flour, plus an additional ½ c. for kneading

Filling
1 cup almond paste
1 egg
2 T. sugar
4 T. unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

Glaze
2 c. powdered sugar
2-3 T. cream
1 tsp almond extract

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.

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Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the milk, butter, sugar, salt and eggs.

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Add flour, beating well.

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Cover and let dough stand until doubled.

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Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead, adding the remaining ½ c. flour to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and satiny. While the rolls rise, prepare the almond filling. Process the almond paste with the egg, sugar, butter and vanilla until mixture is smooth and spreadable.

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Lightly grease your baking dish (see my note above.) Roll out the risen dough to make a rectangle about 24 inches long by 14 inches wide. Spread to within 1 inch of the edge with the almond filling.

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Roll so it makes a long log.  Cut into 1-inch pieces.

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Place in baking dish and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

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While the rolls are baking mix the powdered sugar, cream and almond extract to make a glaze.

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Move the rolls to a cooling rack and drizzle them with the glaze while they are still warm.

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As I mentioned, the rolls are delicate with the buttery almond filling all the way through. Once the glaze has set you can cover them lightly. These are amazing while they’re still warm but they’re pretty fantastic at room temperature too. If you’re keeping them for longer than a day or two I would store them in the fridge or freeze for longer storage.

One year ago: Berry Crumb Cake

smokedchickenalfredo_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Now moving on to the entree portion of the Italian menu I’m doing this week. I created this dish to showcase some lovely smoked chicken my father-in-law gave us. You could sub in a variety of smoked meats in place of the chicken, but the smokiness is nice with the rich, creamy sauce. I’m doing this the old-fashioned way and making the sauce right in the pan.

The pasta is up to you, here I’m using a chichi artisanal fusilli I bought at the fancy food store up the street from my office. I like fusilli because not only is it fun to say the corkscrews are great at carrying sauce and capturing toppings at the same time.

Smoked Chicken Alfredo, Four Generous Servings

  • 1/2 lb. dried pasta
  • 1/2 lb. fresh swiss chard, cut into strips (chiffonade)
  • 1-1/2 c. diced smoked chicken
  • 1/2 lb. fresh portabella or porcini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 3/4 c. shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. dry white wine
  • 3 T. butter
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Boil the pasta as directed on the package.

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While the pasta is cooking, add one tablespoon of butter to another saucepan along with the mushrooms.

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Saute over medium-high until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the swiss chard and the garlic. Continue tossing until the swiss chard is wilted and bright green, about three minutes. Add the chicken to heat through. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.

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Drain the pasta but do not rinse it. Return it to the pan over medium heat and add the butter. I usually set my pasta bowls alongside too at this point, so I have them handy.

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Pour in the cream and wine, sprinkling the cheese over the top. Toss the pasta over the heat. As you toss it, the cream will warm and the cheese will melt as they combine into one glorious whole, coating each strand of pasta.

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Put a serving of pasta in each bowl and top with one quarter of the chicken-mushroom mixture. Grind some fresh pepper over the top and serve hot.

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One year ago: Chicken Biryani with Saffron Rice

semolinacake14_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I felt like doing an Italian dinner this week so I’m starting off with dessert first, then on Thursday we’ll have the main course. This cake comes in many guises but the premise is always the same, olive oil in place of butter and at least part of the flour is replaced with cornmeal or semolina. Since this cake has a naturally sandy, crumbly texture it would lend itself well to replacing the unbleached flour below with a GF blend.

This cake goes together really quickly. If you want to serve it right away you could skip the glaze. Make sure you use an olive oil that you enjoy, because the flavor really comes through.

It stays moist and keeps well while playing nicely with any berries or other fresh fruit you have on hand for topping. In addition to the peaches here I used a small dollop of fresh goat cheese with honey and lavender, but you could sub in creme fraiche or a greek yogurt too.

Semolina Cake with Fresh Peaches, Makes one 8″ cake

  • 1/2 c. olive oil (a citrus flavored oil would be nice as well)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1-1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. semolina pastry flour or fine cornmeal
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 fresh peach, diced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • Juice of one lemon or lime

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the olive oil, wine, eggs and sugar in a bowl. Beat well.

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Add the flour, baking powder and the semolina. Quickly stir together.

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Fold in the diced fresh peach.

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Spoon the batter into a well-greased 8″ cake pan.

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Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Test the center to make sure it’s cooked through.

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Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack.

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Set the cake rack over a plate while you stir up the glaze.

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Stir the powdered sugar and lemon/lime juice together to make a smooth, pourable glaze.

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Pour it over the cake. I pour it all in the middle and then coax it to the outside by pushing it with the back of the spoon.

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Let the cake stand for an hour or so while the glaze sets.

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The cake slices nice and cleanly.

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Serve with fresh fruit. As noted, I’ve added a dollop of fresh goat cheese (Idyll Farm with honey and lavender). Slightly sweetened sour cream would work too.

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One year ago: Peach Cobbler

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by Heather Harris Brady

As promised – a pie (ish) post! No one in my family likes apricots that much, but if I see them fresh this time of year I buy some anyway because I have fond memories of the apricot tree on our farm (previous post, apricot frangipane tart). It was a temperamental tree, some years no fruit, some years it fell while green and but every now and then it would actually do its job and produce bright fruit with a slight blush.

In this crostata I used some beautiful apricots from a farm in Suttons Bay, but this recipe would work with many types of fruit. If you don’t use fruit with a similar water content (like dryer Granny Smith type apples perhaps), make sure to adjust the thickening. This recipe is based on one from Bon Appetit magazine.

Apricot Crostata, Makes one 12″ crostata (about eight slices)

  • Pie dough for one crust (see Basics, on upper toolbar)
  • 2-1/2 c. sliced apricots
  • 1 T. honey or agave syrup
  • ¾ c. crushed amaretti or savoiardi biscuits
  • 1/3 c. almond flour
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  • 1 egg, well beaten and set aside
  • Sugar

Preheat the oven to 375.

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Toss the apricots with the lemon juice, then the sugar, butter and sweetener. Set them aside.

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Roll the crust out to 1/8” thick (the circle should be about 16” wide) and transfer it to a lightly greased cookie sheet. As you will see, I was rushing to get dinner on the table and filled it on the countertop. This is not a good idea. Don’t try to be a hero. However, if you also make the same mistake, slide a well-floured flexible cutting board underneath and carefully slide it off onto your cookie sheet. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

As I was saying, transfer the crust to a light greased cookie sheet. Pile the crumbs and the almond flour in the middle of the dough.

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Top them with the apricots.

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Then go around the outside edge, folding and pleating the dough up over the edge of the fruit.

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Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle it with sugar.

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Not only will this give you a pretty crust, the egg is sort of an extra layer of bondo to help keep everything together.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until the fruit starts to bubble and the juices thicken.

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Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream.

This crostata is best eaten the day it’s made.

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One year ago: Thai Lettuce Wraps

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by Heather Harris Brady

I love the combination of blueberry and lime, and it really takes these scones up a level as the tart lime glaze balances out the sweetness of the scones. These are not sturdy scones for spreading with butter, jam and cream; rather, these have a delicate crumb thanks to the heavy cream and are closer to tiny coffeecakes. If you can find fresh wild blueberries, by all means use them, but the lime can even perk up somewhat bland bigger cultivated berries.

Blueberry-Lime Scones, Makes Eight Large Scones

  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
  • Two fresh limes
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2-1/4 c. flour
  • 1 to 1-1/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 c. powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 400.

Put the sugar in a bowl and grate in the zest from the limes.

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Work the zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrant. Stir the flour and baking powder into the sugar.

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Cut in the butter until you have soft crumbs pea-sized or smaller.

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Stir in the heavy cream, depending on your flour you may need the extra amount to achieve a soft dough.

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Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead it quickly six-seven turns.

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Pat it out into a circle. Top the dough with the blueberries and carefully fold them in.

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Gently pat the dough back out into a circle about an inch thick. Sprinkle it lightly with 1/3 c. of sugar if you like a crunchier top crust.

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Cut into eighths and put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

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Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the tops are crackled and the bottoms are lightly brown. They will spread a bit and puff up in a comforting way.

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While the scones are baking stir together the powdered sugar, adding the juice from the limes until you have a spoonable glaze.

Put the hot scones on a baking rack and drizzle with the glaze.

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Serve warm or at room temperature.

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These scones are best the day they’re made but will keep an additional day or two at room temperature.

Warm leftover scones slightly before serving.

One year ago: Fresh Peach Pie

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by Heather Harris Brady

The blog has been in a bit of a baking drought lately, because quite frankly, we’ve been in a drought! I’ve been spending about two hours every day out watering to keep my gardens going and it’s cramping my baking style. But I’m here to make it up to you – today we’ve got these amazing bars and we’re heading into a birthday weekend, so next week there will be PIE.

For whatever reason I’ve never felt too creative with Bing cherries. Maybe it’s because they are such stainers, we tend to just eat them fresh. But after I had yummy almond cherry crisp made with Bings I decided to get them another look. The base of these bars is a chewy almond BROWN BUTTER (heck yeah!) blondie-type batter, sprinkled with Bings and topped with more almond streusel.  I was a little worried the cherries would juice up and stain the batter but they didn’t – they stayed intact and baked up in a very pretty – tasty – way. Once the butter is browned you dump in the rest of the ingredients and badaboom you’ve got badabings!

BTW, you could easily sub in a GF flour mix for the regular flour.

Badabing Chewy Cherry Bars, Makes on 9 x 13 pan (about 15 bars)

  • One stick of butter
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • Four eggs
  • 1 t. almond extract
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 c. almond flour
  • 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1/3 c. wheat germ
  • 1 c. Bing/dark sweet cherries, halved and pitted

For the streusel:

  • 3 T. softened butter
  • 3/4 c. oatmeal
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. flour

Heat the butter over medium heat in a saucepan until you start getting a nutty brown color. Take it off the heat and set it aside to cool to lukewarm.

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Preheat the oven to 325. Pour the butter into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugars, then beat the eggs in one at a time, followed by the almond extract.

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Add the flours, oatmeal, wheat germ, and baking soda.

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Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan. Top it with the cherries and slide that bad boy into the oven.

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While the bars are baking mix up the streusel. Combine all the streusel ingredients and work them together with your fingers until crumbly.

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Check the pan in the oven. When the edges are brown and the center is nearly set (about 20 minutes), remove the pan from the oven, quickly sprinkle it with streusel and return it to the oven for another 10 minutes. The streusel should lightly brown.

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Let the bars cool and cut them into squares.

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Store leftovers at room temperature covered with plastic wrap. Because of the brown butter these actually get better over the next day or two.

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One year ago: Stuffed Zucchini

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