Category Archives: Recipes

Banana Peach Pudding

20150925_172339(Very loosely) adapted from this persimmon pudding recipe, mainly because I don’t like persimmon but I like pudding. The texture of this pudding is reminiscent of a Yorkshire pudding, almost cakelike. I like it. This version of the recipe is slightly sweet, so you can increase the sugar if you want.

  • 2 cups bananas and drained canned peaches, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • spices to taste – I used allspice and clove, which worked well

This is another one of those recipes that consists of mixing all the ingredients together and putting it in the oven.

Preheat oven to 325 ºF. Grease a 9″ by 13″ baking pan.

Mix the fruit, eggs, milk, and vanilla in one bowl. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in another bowl. Mix the contents of the two bowls, put in the baking pan, put in the oven. Bake until just set, about 1 hour.

Cultured Butter

Ever seen cultured butter in the grocery store? This is butter in which the cream has been cultured before the butterfat is separated from the buttermilk, yielding a butter with a tangy flavor. Cultured butter looks delicious, but it can go for upwards of $10 a pound. So I decided to try making it at home.

First, culture your cream. You can use yogurt starter, fresh yogurt, kefir granules or even let the cream sit around a while to pick up microbes from the air. I went with yogurt starter.

I was skittish about the 24-48 hour incubation that most cultured butter recipes called for, so I decided to culture the cream in warm water for 8 hours. Here’s the setup:

It worked. By the end of the afternoon, the cream looked and smelled like yogurt.

I’ve read advice to get your cream good and cold before trying to churn it and I’ve also read to work at room temperature. One way seems to work for some people, the other way seems to work for others. The method of churning also seems to depend. As you’ll see below, the cream for me was a fickle beast.

I split the batch in half and beat the first half with a hand mixer. I got whipped cream pretty quickly:

Then I got really stiff whipped cream:

Then I got whipped cream that looked wrong, but the fat globules still wouldn’t separate from the liquid:

At this point I had been standing there beating the cream for half an hour, when the instructions I’d read said it would take 5-10 minutes. I gave up and tried the other batch in the food processor:

Boom! Butter. Those globs of butter you see there took less than a minute to form. Don’t know why, never did get the hand mixer batch to work.

Anyway, I took the mixture of butter and buttermilk out of the food processor and ran it through a strainer. I saved the buttermilk, then I rinsed the butter off, added salt, and formed it into a glob. The next morning in the refrigerator it had seeped out more buttermilk, so I drained it. That’s it.

The verdict on taste? The buttermilk tastes exactly like store-bought buttermilk. The butter is tasty, like a very rich cheese. But I think I would want to find a less messy way to do it if I was to make this again.

Lemon Cake Pudding

I felt like making pudding, so I dug around James Beard until I found a recipe that caught my eye. This one’s simple (mix all the ingredients together and put them in the oven) and delicious.

You will need:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice*
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind*
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 egg whites

* I used lime juice. It worked great.

Preheat oven to 350 ºF. Stir together all the ingredients except the egg whites. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (more on that below), then mix the egg whites into the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a 9″ baking pan and bake until it’s set, about 35 minutes.

That’s it. It’s an easy pudding.

Zesting the limes.


This is what egg whites beaten to stiff peaks look like. The protein in the egg whites traps tiny air bubbles, which give the pudding its fluffiness. Isn’t science cool?


The finished product. It isn’t a very imposing-looking pudding, but it’s deliciously tart. You can get away with adding extra lime juice and cutting down the sugar if you like that sort of thing (I do!)

Toasted Crickets

So I’ve been on a hard sci-fi kick lately. And I’ve heard people suggest in a few places that insect protein might make a good meat substitute for people in the future. Curious, I wanted to try them out.

I used this website as a guide: It’s a great resource that’s full of reasons people should try eating bugs, recipes, and advice. I wasn’t ready to try eating something that wriggles, but I was okay with eating something that hops, so I went with the crickets. Insects Are Food says that crickets from the pet store are safe to eat.


They were a lot more expensive that I expected. That’s two bucks’ worth of crickets right there. Here’s another view:


I’m guessing cost wouldn’t be as much of an issue if you raised the crickets yourself, though.

First, stick the crickets in the freezer for a few hours to kill them. This also preserves them. Once they’re dead, they’re like seafood and don’t keep well.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the crickets for two minutes. Drain.

Sprinkle the crickets on a baking pan. The IAF recipe said to cook them plain, but I added a touch of olive oil.

Toast them in the oven on low heat (250º F) for about an hour. Make sure to check on them!

Here’s what you get:


They taste like toasted sunflower seeds. And since toasted sunflower seeds are cheaper, easier to find, and don’t require special prep, I was kind of disappointed with the experiment. But hey, insects ARE food. They turned out perfectly edible.

Russian Black Bread

I tried this out over the long weekend. It’s delicious and has a tender texture (which is a problem I’ve had in the past with whole grain breads). The flavor is robust, so you’ll want to pair it with a topping that can hold up to it. No strawberries and cream here. So far I’ve tried it with sharp cheddar cheese and peanut butter, both to great success. I think it would make a fantastic Reuben.

The recipe is adapted from Allrecipes.

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons molasses (Original recipe calls for corn syrup. I highly recommend the flavor of the molasses.)
  • 2 teaspoons (1 packet) baking yeast
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour (I used whole wheat.)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seed and 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed (I left these out. Depends on whether you like the flavor of caraway and fennel.)

Warm 1/2 cup of the water to about the temperature of a bath. Add the yeast and molasses and set aside.

Mix all the other ingredients except the butter together in a bowl. Just stir ’em together.

Check that the yeast molasses mixture is bubbly. Mix it into the dough. Move the dough from the bowl to a cutting board and knead until you get bored of kneading it. (The Allrecipes recipe called for 10 minutes kneading. Not going to happen.)

Soften the butter (carefully!) in the microwave and knead it into the dough. Knead for a few more minutes. Then move the dough to a fresh, greased bowl, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place for about an hour.

The dough should have expanded in volume. Punch it down, roll it into a ball, and put it in a greased loaf pan. Let it rise for another half hour.

Bake at 400ºF for about 25 minutes. When done, the underside of the bread should sound hollow when you tap it.



Shrove Tuesday Buns

I’ve gotten interested in Scandinavian baking ever since making that lemon almond streamliner cake a couple months ago. Scandinavian desserts are filled with almond paste, fruit, and whipped cream – how could you go wrong? I ran across this particular recipe while I was browsing at a bookstore. The book would have been something like $25, so I went home and looked up a recipe on the Internet.

Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the beginning of Lent. Lots of European societies would use up all the sugar and fat in the house before beginning their Lenten fasting (it’s the same thing as Fat Tuesday). These buns are appropriately rich and over the top. And they’re delicious.

This recipe is an adaptation of the recipes found here and here.

The Buns

  • 1 packet dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3 cups flour (I used 2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat. You can also use 3 1/4 cups all-purpose.)

The filling

  • 6 oz (one tube) almond paste
  • A few tablespoons of cream. Thin it with milk.

Mix the water and the cream and microwave it until it’s slightly warm. Add the yeast and set aside.

Mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and cardamom in a large bowl. Beat the eggs slightly, then add the eggs. Check that your yeast/cream mixture is bubbling, then mix it in.

The mixture will make a sticky dough. Knead it for about 5 minutes. Then roll it into a ball, cover it with a kitchen towel, and leave it in a warm place for about an hour.

(I used xylitol instead of sugar in this recipe, and at this point I discovered that yeast doesn’t like xylitol very much. I came back to my dough to find it had risen an anemic amount. I added a pinch of baking powder and the buns turned out fine.) Anyway, if you weren’t like me and used regular sugar in your recipe, you should find that your dough has doubled in volume. Punch it down and roll it into 10 balls. Put the doughballs on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a towel and put them back in that warm place for another hour.

Set your oven to 400º F. Bake buns for 10 minutes at 400º and let them cool. They’ll look like this:


Once they’re cool, slice the tops off the buns as if you’re making lids. Scoop out the insides of the buns with a spoon. Set the crumbs aside in a bowl. You’ll get something reminiscent of those San Francisco sourdough bowls:


Chunk up the tube of almond paste into the bowl of bread crumbs. Mash them up together, gradually adding milk and cream, until the texture is, well, gloppy. But not so wet that it’ll soak through the buns. Use a spoon to fill the buns up to the brim with the filling.

You probably bought the heavy cream in a half pint, right? Good. Beat the remaining cream with a mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Spoon the whipped cream on top of the filled buns. Perch the lid on top of the mound of cream.



Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake

I first learned about this cake on Hummingbird High. Michelle, the blogger, started the post off with “You know, some cakes just don’t photograph well…” and she’s right. Lemon and almond streamliner cake doesn’t photo well. it’s beige glop on top of a beige disk. (Though Michelle’s a fabulous food photographer and manages to make it look good anyway.) The frosting looks so goopy in the picture because it’s actually custard. Custard? Used to frost a cake? Cool! The recipe was so unusual-sounding I wanted to try it out. The result? The cake tastes way better than it looks. It’s dense, sweet, and saturated with almond flavor, which contrasts well with the lemon custard on top. So don’t judge this cake by its photos. The following recipe is for what I actually baked, because in some cases I couldn’t get the real ingredients and in other cases I was lazy. Check out Hummingbird High or Google for the real recipe. The Custard

  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk (original recipe called for whole milk, my store doesn’t sell whole milk in anything less than a quart.)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided into two 1/4 cup portions
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (original recipe called for fine sea salt. To hell with that.)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (that’s about two lemons’ worth)
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes and cold

The Almond Cake

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (recipe called for cake flour, didn’t want to buy cake flour just for this)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 ounces almond paste (recipe called for six ounces, the tube is seven ounces, why not?)
  • 10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (recipe called for 2 teaspoons, I like vanilla)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk

To make the custard The custard recipe looked tricky, so I got more or less mise en place before I started: IMG_1643
Combine lemon zest, 3/4 cup milk, and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan and put on low heat: IMG_1645
While it’s heating, whisk together the 4 egg yolks, the other 1/2 cup sugar, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Once they’re mixed, whisk in the 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/2 cup lemon juice. The milk mixture should be just barely hot. Carefully mix one third of the milk mixture into the egg mixture. Keep stirring; don’t let the eggs curdle. Return the pan to the heat and pour the egg mixture into the pan, stirring continuously. Keep stirring and cooking on medium-low heat until the custard thickens and bubbles. IMG_1648
At this point, you’re supposed to strain the hot custard to get the lemon zest out of it. I forgot to and I’m glad that I did. The lemon zest adds a nice texture to the final product. Pour the hot custard over the cold butter and stir until the butter melts in. Then chill the custard. It’ll take a couple of hours before it’s ready to frost the cake. To make the cake Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Grease a nine-inch cake pan. Mix together the 1 and 1/4 cups flour, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, mix the 7 ounces almond paste, 10 tablespoons butter, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons canola oil and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Use an electric mixer if you have one. Mix until it it’s light and fluffy. Mix in the three eggs one at a time. Set the electric mixer aside and use a spoon. Carefully add some of the flour mixture to the almond-egg-butter mixture, then some of the buttermilk. Alternate flour and buttermilk until everything is mixed together. (I see instructions to alternate mixing in ingredients in recipes sometimes. I usually ignore those instructions and the recipe comes out fine. This time I followed the directions. If you want to add all the flour, then all the buttermilk, proceed at your own risk.) Pour the batter in the pan and bake at 350ºF for 37 minutes. (The original recipe calls for 45 minutes. It lies.) IMG_1650
Even then, the cake came out darker than I expected. But it came out great when I took it out of the pan and frosted it: IMG_1651
And it was delicious. IMG_1652IMG_1653

Rugelach from Baking With Julia

I was in the mood for baking and wanted to try something completely different. So I tried rugelach, a traditional Jewish dessert. This is Baking With Julia‘s take on the dish, modified so it would be easier to cook in my kitchen.

The dough:

  • 3 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 cups flour*

* You can use all-purpose flour. I find that half and half all-purpose and whole wheat flour works just fine and gives baked goods a nutty taste.

The filling:

  • 2 cups dried apricots
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rum (optional)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons cinnamon

The topping:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups nuts of your choice (though I don’t recommend peanuts)

Beat together the butter, cream cheese, and salt with a mixer. Beat in the sugar. Switch to mixing with a spoon and gradually mix in the flour. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a rough brick shape (see below). Wrap each brick up tightly and put in the freezer for one hour.


While the dough’s chilling, prepare the filling and the topping. For the filling, put the apricots in a saucepan and just cover with water:


Stew the apricots on low heat until they’re just mushy, about 15 minutes. Take off the heat and add the lemon juice and rum. Mash the apricots into a paste. Set aside.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

For the topping, chop the nuts into large pieces. Set aside.


Once your dough’s chilled, you’re ready to assemble your rugelach. Work with one dough brick at a time. Roll the dough out until it’s a rectangle about 1/4″ thick. Cut the rectangle in half the long way.


Spread each side with one quarter of the apricot pureé, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Then roll it up like a jelly roll.



At this point, the rugelach are delicious raw. The dough doesn’t contain any raw eggs, either, so you don’t have to feel bad about making off with some of it. Wrap the rolls tightly in plastic wrap and put them back in the freezer for an hour. You’ll have four rolls total.

When you’re ready to bake the rugelach, work with one roll of dough at a time so it doesn’t get too soft. Slice the roll into disks of desired thickness (this will only affect the cooking time.) Put the rolls on a lined baking sheet. I can’t emphasize that enough.


Sprinkle the disks with the chopped nuts, and if you want, more cinnamon sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Here’s what they look like when they’re done:



Somehow, these rugelach look nothing like the photo in Baking With Julia, and neither my rugelach nor Julia’s look like other pictures of rugelach from the Internet. But they were delicious.

Coconut Cake

Traditionally, coconut cake is lighter than air and sweeter than a marshmallow, which is not what I’m looking for in a cake. I’m looking for a cake that’s got a nice, firm texture, tastes like cake, and also has an intense coconut flavor. After the umpteenth online recipe told me to use boxed white cake mix to make the coconut cake fluffier, I Frankensteined this recipe together out of a couple of non-coconut sources.

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 9″ round cake pan
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup sweet flaked coconut (did I mention it’s supposed to be coconutty?)

Ingredients for the frosting:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 stick butter, room temp
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon rum

For the topping, lots more sweet flaked coconut!


Set oven to 350° F.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar. Then, beat the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture. Add part of the flour mixture, stir it in, add part of the coconut mixture, stir, and go on until it’s all combined. Finally add the vanilla and sweet flaked coconut.

Grease the baking pan and pour the batter in. Bake for about 30 minutes, but check on it early! The cake is done when a knife stuck in the middle comes out without chunks of batter on it.

Let the cake cool completely. Meanwhile, making the frosting couldn’t be simpler: put all the ingredients into a bowl and beat the heck out of them.

Once the cake is cool, turn it out onto the plate and frost. Sprinkle flaked coconut on top. Enjoy.

Here’s some photos of the process:

The batter.

The batter.

Frosting the cake.

Frosting the cake.

Place frosting in the middle of the cake and spread outward with a circular motion.

Place frosting in the middle of the cake and spread outward with a circular motion.

My boyfriend asked for please no coconut flakes on his slice, so that's why the cake is half-flaked.

My boyfriend asked for please no coconut flakes on his slice, so that’s why the cake is half-flaked.

A portion of the cake the next morning. This is what it looks like when it's not under crappy artificial light.

A portion of the cake the next morning. This is what it looks like when it’s under natural light.

Grown-up Gingerbread

I always thought I didn’t like gingerbread. Just the word conjures up images of those his-and-hers bathroom signs that you stamp out of dough in kindergarten and slather in royal icing. They’d do a better job as hockey pucks than food items. Then last December, I went to a holiday potluck that opened my eyes. The gingerbread at the dessert table wasn’t a bread or a hockey puck cookie but a cake, rich, dark, and spicy. I tried to find out who’d brought that cake so I could get the recipe, but with no success. So since then, I’ve been searching for a recipe I could use to recreate real gingerbread at home.

The following recipe is a simplification of a recipe I found in an old cookbook at my folks’ house. It’s different from the potluck gingerbread, but just as good.

Grown-up Gingerbread

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 tablespoons rum
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger or some fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup apple jelly

Grease a 9″ square baking pan and preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the sour cream, molasses, and 1 tablespoon of the rum.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, then add the raisins to the whole thing. Scoop the whole thing into the 9″ pan. Bake for 45 minutes in a water bath (see picture below.)

Once the cake’s done, let it cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt together the apple jelly and the rest of the rum. Once the cake has cooled, poke holes in it and pour the rum jelly glaze on top.



It'll make a really stiff dough.

It’ll make a really stiff dough.

This is a water bath for baking. Put your pan inside of a bigger pan and add enough water to come about 1/4 inch up the sides.

This is a water bath for baking. Put your pan inside of a bigger pan and add enough water to come about 1/4 inch up the sides.

The finished cake.

The finished cake.

Just poke holes all over it and pour the glaze on top.

Just poke holes all over it and pour the glaze on top.

Check out that squidgy cross section!

Check out that squidgy cross section!