Category Archives: Baking

German Apple Puff Pancake

Several weeks ago I (re)found a stack of folders containing hundreds of recipes that I had squirreled away.  Initially, these folders were completely forgotten about until last Fall when I had packed them up in preparation for moving.  Finally, I took some time to go through all those folders… thank you productivity stopping headache!

Always on the lookout for something delicious to start my day off with, I found an old print-out for German apple puff pancakes.  What I had envisioned in my head (fluffy pancakes with a layer of apples on the bottom) was completely different from the end result.  Turns out I was very much okay with that!

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German Apple Puff Pancake

2 medium firm apples, cored, peeled, and sliced 1/4″ thick

3 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp sugar

1 1/2 Tsp cinnamon

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

splash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 425°F.  In a small bowl mix cinnamon and sugar, set aside.  Peel apples and cut into 1/4″ slices.  Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet; add enough apples so that the bottom of the skillet is covered.  Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture evenly over apples and sauté until they become soft and light brown on both sides, approximately 4-5 minutes.

Gently mix remaining ingredients into a smooth batter and pour over-top apples.  Place skillet into preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  DO NOT open the oven door while your puff pancake is baking, instead, use the oven light to see if it is done.  Once the pancake no longer appears wet it is done.

To serve, invert skillet over a large round plate.  It helps to run a metal spatula along the underside before flipping, this way the apples do not stick to the bottom.

I’m definitely making this again, and most likely it will be tomorrow!  However, this time I think I’m going to slice up some of my canned peaches instead of apples.

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe adapted from the magical melting pot blog (no longer available).

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Johnny Appleseed in a Jar

A cultural icon; forbidden fruit.  The apple has quite a history!  It also happens to be one of my favorite foods to put up.  Dried, sauced, buttered, and baked, the delicious possibilities are endless!  Last fall was the first time I had canned my apple pie filling.  In years past I would follow the recipe given below but instead of processing in a bwb, I allowed the mixture to cool and then filled Ziploc bags with 2.5 cups filling and froze for future baking needs.  If you decide that the freezing method is the way to go, just be sure to follow this oh-so-important final step before filling your pie shell or else your pie will become a watery mess!  Mix 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1/4 cup clear jell; the additional sugar keeps the clear jell from clumping when added to the filling.  Stir mixture on medium-high until thickened.

apples & filling

Apple Pie Filling- yields 7 quarts

6 quarts fresh apples – in case you’re wondering, Cortland apples make the best pies!

5 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups clear jell – cook type

2 1/2 cups cold water

5 cups apple juice

3/4 cup bottled lemon juice

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

Wash, peel, and core your apples.  I use one of these nifty all-in-one contraptions and wouldn’t have it any other way!  Last fall I canned apple mincemeat and prepared my apples by hand; NEVER AGAIN will I make that mistake!  Not only did it take forever, but my hands were so tired!

Place apple slices in a large bowl of water containing ascorbic acid to prevent browning, drain, and set aside.

In a large pot combine sugar, clear jell, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, and apple juice.  Stir ingredients until well blended and cook over medium-high heat until mixture begins to thicken and bubble.  Add lemon juice and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Fold in drained apple slices, mix well and immediately fill prepared jars leaving 1-inch headspace.  Wipe rims, adjust two-piece lids, and process in a boiling-water bath for 25 minutes.  Remove jars and place on a wire rack, undisturbed for 12-24 hours, so seals may properly set.

pie filling

I cracked open my first jar about 2 weeks ago for a baking adventure and I was very pleased with the outcome.  Unfortunately, before I can share that delicious recipe I first need to share the two canned stars that made it shine!

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe adapted from USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning and Food Preservation.

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Muffin Madness

Yesterday was one of those days where I wanted nothing more than to spend every available minute in the kitchen. And with the exception of a few domestic chores, that is exactly what I did! I’ve had muffins floating around my brain for the past few weeks and decided the time had finally come to test out a few ideas.

It’s no secret that I have a wicked sweet tooth! I put too much sugar in my coffee, cake is my favorite food, and if allowed I could easily put down back-to-back pints of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and Half Baked. Yeah, it’s that serious. Fortunately, I posses enough self-control to keep myself from going overboard! I’ve found that a daily dose of sweetness is just enough to keep me on the straight and narrow. So when I was dreaming up healthy alternatives to the cake-like muffins I really wanted to make, I was reminded of all my jams and jellies quietly calling out to me from the basement.

jam-filled almond oat muffins

Jam-Filled Almond Oat Muffins

1 cup AP flour

1 1/4 cup oat flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 cup vanilla soy milk

1/2 cup light brown sugar

the fresh-squeezed juice from a medium-sized orange (approximately 1/4 cup)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

1/4 tsp almond extract

1/3 cup fruit butter, jam, or jelly of your choice (I used blueberry butter and peach butter)

sliced raw almonds

granulated sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a medium bowl whisk together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl combine eggs, milk, vanilla, brown sugar, oil, and orange juice.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until barely blended; be careful to not over-mix the batter or your muffins will become tough.  In a separate bowl mix fruit spread and almond extract.  Fill muffin cups halfway with batter and spoon in 1 tsp of the fruit spread, then top off with more batter.  Lightly dust on a bit of granulated sugar and a sprinkling of sliced almonds.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400°F or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Transfer muffins to a wire rack and allow to cool 5-10 before eating.

Recipe yields approximately 14 muffins.

strawberry banana oat muffins

Strawberry Banana Wheat Bran Muffins

3/4 cup AP flour

1 cup oat flour

1 cup wheat bran

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

1 cup vanilla soy milk

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup mashed banana

1/2 cup mashed strawberries (frozen and then thawed work best for mashing)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a medium bowl whisk together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl mix eggs and brown sugar until smooth; add milk, vanilla, wheat bran, oil, bananas, and strawberries and mix until well incorporated.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until barely blended; be careful to not over-mix the batter or your muffins will become tough.  Pour into muffin cups and lightly dust on a bit of granulated sugar and top off with a strawberry.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400°F or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Transfer muffins to a wire rack and allow to cool 5-10 before eating.

Recipe yields approximately 18 muffins.

Both of my taste-testers were very happy with the outcome of these recipes, so much so that one suggested I open a bakery.  While I don’t think they are that amazing, judging by the ratio of eaten to non-eaten muffins left on the counter, I had better make another batch, SOON!

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge.

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English Muffin Bread

I have an arsenal of bread recipes at my disposal, some are my own, others come from friends, books, and the interwebs.  The bread I am sharing with you today is from the 1977 edition of Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book.

I’ve made this bread several times and not once has it disappointed.  It’s a no frills, rustic loaf that is well suited for jam and toast or grilled sandwiches; my most recent favorite is tofurkey, leeks, and Daiya cheddar cheese.  When steam-baked it develops a wonderful crusty exterior and dense chewy interior.

English Muffin Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp active dry yeast

1 Tbsp raw sugar

1-1/4 cups warm water

3/4 Tsp salt

In a large bowl combine flour and yeast, set aside.  In a medium sauce pan heat water, sugar, and salt until warm (115-120°) stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add wet ingredients to dry mixture, stir until a soft dough forms.  Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once.  Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Gently press dough down; cover and allow to rise for an additional 10 minutes.

Grease a 1-quart casserole dish and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Place dough in casserole and sprinkle top with cornmeal.  Cover, let rise ’til doubled in size  (40 minutes) and bake at 400°F for 40-45 minutes.  If the top begins to brown too quickly tent with aluminum foil.  Place loaf on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Images and content copyright © 2009-2012 Danielle R Limoge.  Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book

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Strawberry Maple Banana Bread

I’m always looking for new ways to use what I’ve preserved, especially when it comes to fruit spreads!  Cookies made with jam are nothing new for me, but bread-baked preserves were something I’ve yet to try!

Strawberry Maple Banana Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup strawberry jam

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 flax egg

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.  Grease a loaf pan and set aside.  Over medium heat, toast walnuts ’til warm and fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Be sure to keep the nuts moving so they do not burn.  Set walnuts aside.

In a large bowl, combine jam, butter, flax egg, maple syrup, and almond extract.  Add mashed bananas, stir thoroughly.

In a small bowl, sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Slowly begin adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing well each time.  Stir in toasted walnuts.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.  Allow bread to sit for 5 minutes before removing from pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe adapted from Food in Jars.

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Sun-dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Bread

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about sun-dried tomatoes.  I mentioned how they can be packed in oil and safely stored in the fridge.  Well, after several weeks of eying them up, ever-so-safely tucked away between the pickles and garden-fresh produce, the time had come for me to start putting those babies to good use!

Sun-dried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Bread - makes 2 small loaves or one large loaf. 

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s organic all-purpose)

1 cup sifted whole wheat bread flour (I use Daisy because they are organic and local!)

1 cup sifted oat flour (This one I picked up at my bulk foods store. Although not labeled, most of their flours are organic!)

1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast

2 tsp salt

1-2/3 cups warm water

1-1/2 tsp sun-dried tomato oil

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

oat bran for sprinkling

Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl; add water, oil, olives, and tomatoes.  Gently mix ingredients until a sticky dough forms.  Turn dough out on a well-floured surface; knead until smooth and slightly elastic for about 10 minutes.  Wash and oil the bowl you mixed the dough in and return dough to bowl.  Cover and place in a warm, draft-free area, and allow dough to rise until doubled in size, 45-90 minutes.

Gently press your finger tips into the dough to deflate; place dough on a generously floured surface and knead again.  Place dough back in bowl and allow to rise another 30-60 minutes.  Repeat the knead and rise cycle up to four times; by doing so it will improve the texture and flavor.

After the final knead, divide dough into two equal pieces, or keep whole for one large loaf.  Sprinkle oat bran onto your work surface and shape dough into loaves, be sure to coat all sides of the dough.  Allow dough to rest, covered, for 10-15 minutes.  Place a baking stone on the middle oven rack and a large water-filled baking dish on the very bottom rack; heat oven to 500°F.

Place loaves on stone and bake for 10 minutes, then turn heat down to 400°F if the crust looks very pale, 350°F if the crust is browning, or 325°F if the crust is browning too quickly.  Bake until the loaves are crusty and brown and sound hollow when you tap them: in total, about 30-40 minutes.  Allow loaves to cool on a wire rack before slicing.  If you will be serving them with oil for dipping you can tear them when cool to the touch.

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge.

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Cast Iron Cornbread

Last week/end I managed to escape the harvest and sneak in a much-needed vacation!  While on my travels I picked up a few treasures, one being a 1944 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book.  What makes this vintage book a real gem are all the hand-written notes tucked within the pages!  The previous owner had the most beautiful penmanship!

The first recipe I tried was for cornbread.  While this is not my favorite cornbread, it was still quite good, and with all the jams I’ve been making, it’s nice to switch up my spreading surface!

Cast Iron Cornbread - from The Good housekeeping Cook Book

1-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour  **A listed alternative to the a.p. was to use 2 cups minus 2 tbsp sifted cake flour, which is what I did.

3/4 cup yellow corn meal

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

1 egg, well-beaten

1 cup milk  **I used 1/3 cup dry milk reconstituted with 1 cup water.

1/4 cup shortening

Sift together flour, corn meal, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Combine milk, egg, and shortening.  Turn liquid ingredients into dry ingredients all at once, stirring quickly and vigorously until mixture has a lumpy appearance, but no longer.  Pour into a well-seasoned 10″ cast iron skillet and bake at 425°F in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.  Serve warm.

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Rosemary Focaccia

This past May, I spent an evening with my friends, Bill and Lauren; they too share my enthusiasm for all things local, organic, and of course, homegrown!  Because I am a passionate advocate for healthy food, low-impact living, and organic gardening, it only seems natural that I end up being the go-to person for related questions and advice.

My friends were very interested in starting an organic garden, as well as purchasing their transplants from me.  We had decided to make a night of it.  I’d bring their plants, my hot artichoke dip, and a fresh-baked apple pie (they were in charge of the main course) and we would share an evening of delicious food and great conversation!  And that is exactly what we did.

For 4 hours I talked (pretty much non-stop) about food, the food system, and organic gardening.  Lauren had a pen and paper at the ready, while her hubby, Bill, absorbed every word I spoke.  I’m friends with a lot of like-minded individuals and in our shared idealistic world, we would all be homesteading, off-grid, in our own little community!  Ahhhh… the dream!

For that evening’s dinner, Lauren grilled California-style veggie sandwiches, which were served on warm-from-the-oven focaccia, paired with a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad.  Everything was delicious!

With the back-to-back-to-back, oppressive heat waves that have been taking place, I’ve been relying on my grill for dinner.  Two weekends ago I baked a double batch of focaccia to be paired with my evening meal of fresh-from-the-garden veggie sandwiches.

Rosemary Focaccia - adapted from the Pioneer Woman (I’m still trying to get Lauren’s recipe!)

1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1-1/2 cup warm water

4 cups King Arthur all-purpose organic flour

1 tsp  salt

1/3 cup olive oil

large sprig of fresh rosemary, minced

course alaea salt, for sprinkling

olive oil for drizzling

Sprinkle the yeast over warm water and let stand for 10 minutes.

Whisk flour and salt, then drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour.  Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass.  Form the dough into a ball and lightly coat with olive oil.  Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, set it aside for 1-2 hours.  If you do not plan on using the dough right away it can stay in the fridge for several days.

Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.  Divide dough in half and roll out into a rectangle.  I reserved the second portion to be baked later that week.  If you are baking both sections, place each one on a separate cookie sheets and lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Cover each one with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Remove the plastic wrap (dough will be puffy) and use your fingertips to gently press dimples into the surface of the dough.  Sprinkle with rosemary and coarse salt.  I baked each one separately, so 20 minutes was just the right amount of time to yield a golden brown surface.  If you are baking both, 30-40 minutes is recommended.

Cut into pieces with a pizza wheel.  Serve immediately.

Since I reserved some of the bread for the next day’s meal, it needed a bit of freshening up.  I placed two pieces on the top-level of the grill for 3 minutes and it worked like a charm!

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Hi Ho Cherry-O

With the end of one beloved red fruit begins the start of another!  As if the picture isn’t a dead giveaway, I’m talking about cherries!  The first to ripen are sweet cherries.  Sour cherries (my favorite) shortly follow.  Then just as quickly as they come they go!  Last week, I made two trips to Cherry Hill Orchards and managed to pick 23 pounds of sour cherries and fall out of a tree… technically I was knocked out of it by a New Yorker in his land-yacht of an SUV!  But fall from the tree I did!

You can see from the picture above that cars actually drive through the orchard; I’m guessing that must be where overflow parking is.  So I’m on one of the tall ladders all up in the tree and this guy comes barreling down the path.  I’m guessing his side view or tire caught the edge of my ladder because down I went!  Thankfully my cat-like reflexes kicked in and I landed on my feet.  Dude never stopped or slowed down…I’m guessing he had no idea what happened.  Seriously, YOU’RE IN AN ORCHARD, slow down!

Now, I’m sure you may (or may not) be asking yourself what ever does one do with 23 pounds of sour cherries?  Why one makes cherry pie filling, jams, ice cream, pie, turnovers, scones, salad dressing, and dehydrates them of course!   You can see I’ve been a very busy little bee!

Cherry Pie, the Fillingadapted from USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving

I tripled the quart instructions (which is allowed) and omitted the cinnamon and red food dye to make 6 pints.  In actuality, it ended up being more like 9 pints so I canned 6, froze 2, and baked turnovers and a pie, since I only had 6 sterilized jars at the ready!

10 cups sour cherries, pits and stems removed

3 cups sugar

3/4 cup + 3 tbsp clear jell (use the cook type, not the instant)

4 cups cold water

4 tbsp bottled lemon juice

3/4 tsp almond extract

Rinse and pit fresh cherries, and hold in cold water.  I pinched mine the night before so I didn’t put them in water.  If you want to prevent them from browning where the stem was removed (I never do), you can treat them with some absorbic acid or Fruit Fresh.  Place the cherries in a gallon of boiling water 6 cups at a time and boil for one minute once water returns to a boil.  Drain but keep them heated in a covered bowl or dish.  For this step, I heated my enamel-covered cast iron dutch oven at 200° F for about 15 minutes, worked great!  Combine the sugar and clear jell with water in a large pot and add water and almond extract.  Stir the mixture and cook over medium-high heat until it thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice and boil one minute, stirring constantly.  Fold in drained cherries immediately and fill hot jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1″ headspace.  Adjust 2 piece lids to fingertip-tight and process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes or your recommended altitude processing time.

Cherry Pie, the Crust - adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 1943 edition

1-3/4 C pastry flour

1 C spelt flour

1/2 C whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

4 tbsp spectrum shortening

2 tbsp butter

1/4 C ice water

In a large bowl, sift flours, salt, and baking powder; cut in butter and shortening with a pastry knife (or two forks) stopping when mixture resembles a course mix about the size of a pea.  Sprinkle 3 tbsp of ice water over the dough and blend it lightly.  If the dough can be gathered into a ball, don’t add any more water.  If not, continue sprinkling ice water one tablespoon at a time.  Try to not overwork your dough as this brings out the gluten and makes your pie crust tough.  Divide the dough into two balls, one being about 2/3 of the dough; this will be the bottom crust, the smaller one will be the top crust.  Place each ball of dough between two layers of wax paper and roll out into a disk.  Place the disks in the fridge for an hour.  After the dough has chilled, roll them out and place the large one into your pie plate, add pie filling, then add the top crust.  Pinch your edges together and cut several slits or X’s into the top to vent the steam.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450°F for 30 minutes.

I actually didn’t make my pie this way.  Instead, I made turnovers.  After about 8 turnovers, I got tired of messing with the dough so I used the rest to bake up a small pie.  Since my pie was so small, I only baked it for 15 minutes, like I did with the turnovers.

As you can tell by the picture, the pie was good.  Like, really, really good.  So good that I ate the entire pie without taking a picture.  In my gluttonous defense, this particular piece of pottery is rather small and quite shallow, it held about a jelly jars worth of filling… and I ate said pie in 2 days, not one.

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Strawberry Bread

I have a confession to make; I suffer from seasonal gluttony disorder, especially when it comes to strawberries!  I just can’t help myself, I have to put them in everything.  All the time!  I’m also guilty of squirreling them away, whether they’re frozen, in assorted jams, or dehydrated!

Sunday I noticed I had quite a few over-ripe bananas in my kitchen, so I thought banana nut bread.  Then my seasonal gluttony kicked in and I immediately switched gears from bananas to strawberries.

I used a basic bread recipe and gave it a complete overhaul; what I ended up with were two very dense, moist, almost dessert-like loaves of bread.   Then add a slathering of my strawberry-rhubarb jam and it was dessert!!

Strawberry Bread

2 C mashed strawberries, frozen or fresh

1/4 C oat bran

1/4 C flax seed meal

1-1/2 C all-purpose flour

1 C whole wheat flour

1-1/3 C raw sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 C sunflower oil

1/4 C coconut oil

1/4 C apple sauce

2 Tbsp orange juice

1 Tsp vanilla extract

1 Tsp cinnamon

1 Tsp baking soda

1 Tsp salt

1 C chopped walnuts (which I totally spaced on and didn’t realize until the loaf pans were in the oven)

In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, orange juice, vanilla, and 1/3 C sugar; mix and set aside to allow the strawberries to release their juices.  In a large bowl, combine flours, flax meal, oat bran, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; whisk to incorporate.  Make a large well in dry ingredients and add strawberry mixture, oils, apple sauce, eggs, and remaining sugar; stir well, add walnuts, stir again.  Pour into two well-greased loaf pans (I use spectrum shortening) and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 50 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the loaf and comes out clean.  Remove bread from pans and allow to cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy!

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