Category Archives: Breakfast

Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars

Last weekend, I went berry picking with some friends.  I have never done so in Oregon, which is idiotic, because everyone knows Oregon has the best berries anywhere.  It is strawberry season in Oregon, and is starting to be blueberry and raspberry season.  Blueberries are easy to pick, because they are on trees at a normal, human height.  Strawberries, however, are low to the ground and apparently enjoy hiding in thickets of thorny nonsense.  You kind of squat down and scuttle along the rows looking for berries.  Collecting a big bucket of berries made me feel satisfied to have come from a long line of peasants on both sides of my family, which is contrary to my childhood feelings about the same subject, during which time I was sure I was descended from royalty.  Not so, I’m told.

In any case, I picked a shitload of berries.  Far more than one person can consume.  So, I froze a bunch of them, in that Martha Stewart-y method where you lay out the berries on a cookie sheet and freeze them, then gather them up into ziploc bags individually when they’re frozen, so you have pretty, individually frozen berries instead of a frozen gloppy mess.  It worked perfectly.

In the interest of using up some of my berries AND of making a gluten free dessert for a buddy, I landed on Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars.  (I wanted to make a blueberry tart, but I don’t have a tart pan and seeing as I DO have a bundt pan AND a springform pan, that seems like enough pans I use once per decade.)  If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know anything about celiac disease, wheat allergies or the general gluten free food thing, I’d like to introduce you to the internet.

I’ve never made anything gluten free on purpose.  You know, like roasted asparagus.  That is gluten free.  But something normally made with wheat not made with wheat?  No.  Turns out, though, that there is a plethora of gluten free choices.  Almond flour, amaranth flour (?  This seems like what lembas bread is probably made from, and if you get that reference, you’re a dork and we would get along famously), rice flour, oat flour, arrowroot flour, fava bean flour, chickpea flour, etc.  I opted for rice flour, because a dessert made out of fava beans is weird, and oat flour, because that is something I could make myself.

These bars were so easy.  So so easy and so very delicious.  I think with nuts in them, these bars would be easily good enough for you to have for breakfast, or you could have them for dessert with ice cream and they’d still be wonderful.

Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars

Crust:

1 cup rice flour

1 1/4 cups oat flour (you can make your own by pulsing oats in a food processor until more or less fine, but they make a nice base when they’re a little rough)

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup (1/2 a stick)  butter, softened

1 egg

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Blueberry compote:

2 cups fresh blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

3 tbsp corn starch

juice of half a lemon

Method:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a small saucepan, cook the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, then let it cool until you can touch it.  It should be relatively thick, like jam.

For the crust, mix together all the dry ingredients, then smush in the butter, egg and oil with your fingers until the crust is sandy but mostly holds together.  Into a greased square baking pan, press 3/4 of the dough into the bottom, pretty firmly and be sure to cover the pan completely, not leaving any holes.

tamara doing the actual work.

Pour the blueberry compote onto the dough, then drop the remaining 1/4 of dough onto the top of the berries.

notice in this picture that i have some extra Thai chiles from when i made stir fry last week.  they’ll just sit there.  forever, probably.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top dough is lightly browned.  Let cool completely before cutting.

These turned out perfectly. Taking the extra step of cooking the blueberries was my way of ensuring that they didn’t get too runny and create a cobbler instead of bars.  They turned out beautifully.  I even took them to the beach.  And!  No gluten!

– Cat

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Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

This recipe has been a long time coming. I have had a crush on all things lemon, and all things poppy seed for most of my adult life.  I have enjoyed lemon poppy seed cakes and muffins at more places than I care to admit. I have also made many a box mix and I wasn’t even ashamed because they were good. Then…I made this, and I swear I will never go back. While zesting lemons is a bit tedious, that’s the only even remotely hard part about this recipe. This recipe comes from Joy the Baker, one of my go to sources for delicious baking related recipes. I have made many things from her blog and they have all been absolutely fantastic. I did make a few modifications to this; the most major was adding the poppy seeds. The other thing I omitted was the lemon syrup brushed over the cake at the end. When I made these, I made 8 loaves at once, I tried the lemon syrup on the first round of 2 and I just didn’t love it. The syrup is made with lemon juice, water, and sugar that is cooked down- when lemon juice is cooked down I think it has a tendency to taste a little bit too much like minute-made lemonade from concentrate and a little bit less like fresh bright delicious lemon. I opted to not include brush the remaining loaves with the syrup and I still think they were fantastic and amazingly moist and lemony. If you decide you want to use the syrup, check out joy’s site for instructions.

I should also divulge that this is not actually a pound cake at all. A pound cake is literally made from a pound of butter, a pound of flour, and a pound of sugar. This doesn’t have anywhere near that much butter in it, but don’t worry there are still plenty of other fatty delicious things. In my mind I define a pound cake as a loaf of dense, super moist, cake; which is exactly what this is. Low fat? No. Delicious? Yes!

Modified from Joy the Baker’s Lemon Cake

Ingredients:

2 2/3 cups flour

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 1/3 cups sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract (*see note)

6 large eggs (*see note)

2/3 cup heavy cream

Zest of two lemons, finely grated

1 stick plus 7 Tbs (15 Tbs) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 Tbs plus 2 tsp. Poppy Seeds

Method:

Preheat oven to 350. Butter two 8 ½- 4 ½ inch loaf pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess.

Sift together, flour, baking powder, and salt.

Zest the lemons. Combine the lemon zest with the sugar in a large bowl and working with your fingers, rub them together until the sugar is moist and full of lemon fragrance.

Add the eggs and whisk them into the sugar, beating until they are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in vanilla extract. Then whisk in the cream. Continue with the whisk and gently stir in the dry ingredients in 3 or four additions. Fold in the melted butter in 3 or 4 additions until it is completely combined. Last but not least, fold in the poppy seeds.

Fill two buttered and floured loaf pans 2/3 full.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. You can tent them lightly with foil if the tops are becoming too browned; I did this at about 35 minutes.

A few notes:

Note on the vanilla- I know I have mentioned it before, but my absolutely favorite vanilla extract is Sonoma syrup companies’ vanilla bean crush extract. It has amazing flavor and lovely little specks of vanilla bean in it. The only thing better would be actual vanilla bean, which if you do choose to use, use ½ of a bean and add the caviar from the bean into the recipe along with the lemon zest to infuse the sugar.

Note on the eggs- You should always use large eggs when you are following a recipe.  Eggs are graded and weighed before they are distributed. Large eggs weigh 2 to 2.25 oz, extra large are 2.25 to 2.5, and jumbo are  2.5 oz. and above. Almost all test kitchens and restaurants will be using large eggs, not jumbo or extra large. While it may or may not make a major difference, baking is very scientific and little things like this can alter the outcome.

I had a thought after completing this recipe. While I didn’t like the syrup with the cooked lemon juice, If you do decide to try the syrup method I would recommend making the simple syrup and THEN adding the lemon juice, to preserve the true lemon flavor.

Another note, even if you have nonstick loaf pans, you still should butter and flour them. This may seem excessive, but I swear once you do it, you will be amazed at how easily those loaves pop out. This is also my preferred method with cake making as well.

Are you wondering why I made 8 loaves at a time? I offered to make these for my parent’s upcoming church coffee hour. One of the main reasons I chose this recipe is because it freezes easily. Carefully wrap each loaf and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, just place on a counter at room temperature.

-Sue

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Cinnamon Roll Cake with Maple Drizzle

tastes like a cinnamon roll, but is far less annoying.

I love cinnamon rolls.  I LOVE THEM.  I think the only thing I love as much as cinnamon rolls is s’mores.  Recently, I  made the frozen kind in the tube, and forbade Dom from eating any.  (He doesn’t cook, he doesn’t get dibs, that’s my rule.)  I’m even territorial about the kind of gross, frozen, in-tube kind of cinnamon rolls.  You should see how nasty I get over homemade cinnamon rolls.

The thing about homemade cinnamon rolls is that they are a giant pain in the arse (arse is less offensive than a** because it’s British, you know).  There are two things in cooking that I hate: baking with yeast and deep frying at home, and the reasons are because I am impatient and because I hate a mess.  I made Alton Brown’s Cinnamon Rolls a long time ago, and while those were heavenly, they both required yeast AND made a big mess.  The good news is that cooking blogs are always coming up with ways for lazy bakers like me to eat cinnamon rolls without using yeast/waiting for dough to rise/waiting for it to rise again/rolling it out/waiting overnight.

Like this Cinnamon Roll Cake.  It’s basically a homemade version of the in-tube store bought cinnamon rolls, except cake batter instead of yeast.  It even has a sugar/butter mixture you spread on top and then swirl around.  It’s also REALLY easy and doesn’t make a ton of cake, which is probably best for everyone.

I timed myself, and this took 21 minutes, from measuring out the ingredients as I went, to melting the butter in the microwave, to softening the other butter in the microwave*, to spooning on the butter/sugar, to swirling it around with a knife to getting it in the oven.  21 minutes. Plus 5 minutes to make the icing.

*My A+ method for softening refrigerated butter to room temperature: take the stick, in the wrapper, and microwave it 5 seconds at a time, turning it after each 5 seconds, probably 4-5 times.  This method does require you have a reasonably deep understanding of your microwave’s cooking strength, but if you’re concerned, turn the power down to about half and I promise you this will work like a charm.  If your butter is frozen, instead of refrigerated, as mine often is, do the same thing, except use the defrost setting for the 5 second increments, and then after 6 or 7 of them, switch to full strength.  The method isn’t as foolproof for frozen butter as it is for refrigerated butter.

Cinnamon Roll Cake with Maple Drizzle, from Cooking for Seven

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup all purpose)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cups milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, melted

For the topping:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp flour

For the icing:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 tbsp maple syrup

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray Pam on an 8 inch cake pan.  In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients for the cake, the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Into that bowl, mix the egg, milk and vanilla, and mix until just combined.  Then, slowly mix in the melted butter until combined.  Pour the batter into the cake pan and set aside.

Next, in a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients: the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, until well mixed.  Drop this in spoonfuls onto the cake batter, and then spread it out across the top of the cake.  Take a knife and swirl the topping into the cake batter, so it looks like this:

mmm, sugary butter.

Bake the cake for 28-32 minutes, until the top is set and a toothpick inserted into it comes out with only a few crumbs.

when it's done baking, it should look like this. firm to the touch, but with valleys from the melted butter.

While it’s baking, mix together the icing ingredients: maple syrup and powdered sugar, until it’s a drizzly texture.  When the cake comes out, let it cool until room temperature or just slightly warm, then drizzle the cake with the icing.  Serve warm or at room temperature, or hide it from whoever you live with and eat it on the sly.

– Cat

i probably should have baked 3 of them.

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Rhubarb Raspberry Yogurt Muffins

if you don't like these, you probably hate kittens and sunshine too.

Play by Play Baking Muffin Baking Analysis.

10:25am: Aloud, to self, “Rhubarb is weird.  It  looks like celery, but it smells like candy.”

10:28am: Aloud, to self, “Stupid Ina Garten with her stupid ‘spoon the flour into the measuring cup’.”

10:32am: Aloud, to self, “These raspberries kind of fell apart when I stirred them into the batter.  I hope they don’t turn into a raspberry colored swampy mess in there.”

10:33am: (standing on a chair, in a nightgown [yes I have nightgowns, because I am becoming my mother] digging in the baking cupboard) “*$#!@@#!  I swore I had cupcake papers in here.”

10:34am: (sounds of copious amounts of Pam being sprayed onto a nonstick muffin pan)

10:35am: Aloud, to self: “This is the most delicious muffin batter on planet earth.  Good thing I don’t believe in salmonella because there’s a raw egg in here, and I’m about to eat a bunch of the batter anyway.”

10:47am: Loudly, to self: “These are also the most beautiful muffins on planet earth.  I can’t believe how attractive these are.  I really hope they don’t stick to the pan and become a sloppy, mutilated berry juice stained failure.”

11:03am: Via Gchat, to Sue: “Dude I just made the greatest muffins on planet earth.  I’m going to sell the recipe to Starbucks and make a jillion dollars and then we can go on a world food tour.”

These muffins are light, airy and really fruity.  They’re not overly sweet, which makes that brown sugar topping extra important.  You could easily sweeten these up by making a powdered sugar glaze, but it would cover up the pretty berries and also I try not to eat a ton of sugar in the morning, and probably so should we all.  The most interesting thing about these muffins is that because the raspberries and rhubarb aren’t baked together into a mush (a la strawberry rhubarb pie) you can really taste the distinct fruit flavors.  Rhubarb is mostly tart, almost lemony, and the raspberries taste really, really sweet.  The yogurt helps the batter stand up to the heavy fruit, and complements it nicely instead of being overpowered by the berry flavor.  Also don’t skip tossing the fruit in the flour, if you do, it’ll likely sink to the bottom of the batter and make a gloppy mess.

Raspberry Rhubarb Yogurt Muffins

2 cups plus 2 tbsp flour (2tbsp are for sprinkling on the fruit so it doesn’t sink to the bottom of the muffins)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt

3/4 cup rhubarb, chopped (I cut the ends off mine, then cut it once lengthwise, then chopped it into about a half inch dice, see below)

1 cup raspberries (fresh is preferable, but if you use frozen, just keep them frozen until you put them in the batter)

1/4 cup brown sugar (for sprinkling on the tops)

like this. see? rhubarb is weird.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and put cupcake papers in your muffin tin (if you have them, if you don’t, be liberal with the Pam and everything will turn out okay).  Put the raspberries and rhubarb in a small bowl with the 2 tsp of flour and toss them gently until the fruit is all covered.  In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil and butter until smooth.  Add in the egg, yogurt and vanilla and beat until combined.  In a separate bowl, mix together the 2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet about a third at a time until JUST combined.  Don’t overmix.  Very gently, fold in the fruit.  Put about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin paper and sprinkle with a little brown sugar.

i wanted to show you how full to make them, but i forgot until after they were in the oven.

Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

If you wanted to make these and then take pictures of yours too, because they are so so pretty, I wouldn’t blame you.

– Cat

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Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti

isn't that mug pretty? i never use it.

Perhaps it’s a result of my upbringing in cider mill country (if you’ve never eaten a cinnamon sugar cider mill donut while drinking fresh apple cider, you haven’t lived), or of my Grandma Bev’s much loved snickerdoodle recipe (I didn’t know she didn’t invent them until I went to middle school and wondered who in the hell had stolen my grandma’s recipe when I saw snickerdoodles in the lunch line), but I’m a real sucker for cinnamon sugar things.  Churros, elephant ears, donuts, cookies, cinnamon toast, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, leftover pie dough sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and rolled up into perfect little swirls (without cinnamon also called, in some adorable Nebraskan circles, Sugar Pie).  All delicious. Cinnamon sugar biscotti is like a grown up version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, in that it’s elegant, you can dunk it in coffee and no one judges you for eating it, but it pretty much tastes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

I think my personal baked goods provider (Linda) originally made me cinnamon sugar biscotti, but now I don’t live with her anymore and recently when I asked her to make me some she said make it yourself.  So I did.

Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti, adapted from Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.  When fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time.  Beat in the flour, salt and baking powder until just combined.

On a parchment lined cookie sheet, arrange the dough in a kind of long, oval blob, like this:

i sprinkled some cinnamon on it and forgot to tell you to do that.

Bake the blob for 40 minutes, until golden.  It will expand a lot, like this:

gigantor cookie blob.

Let the blob cool for about a half hour or so, move it to a cutting board, then cut it diagonally into strips with a serrated knife.  Arrange the slices on the cookie sheet, cut side up, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake for another 15 minutes, turn all the biscotti over so the opposite cut side is facing up, sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar and bake another 7-10 minutes.  The idea is to let them get as dry and crunchy as possible without burning them.  This will probably be easier for everyone not living in the drippiest, moistest region of these United States.

Notes:

I store these in a container with a lid, but I just lay the lid on the container, I don’t close it up.  That way, they’ll stay drier instead of moisten up in there.

You don’t have to make this biscotti cinnamon sugar flavor.  Remove the cinnamon from the batter and you have biscotti base that you can add anything to!  Here are some ideas: orange zest and almonds, then dip the biscotti in chocolate; cranberries and pecans, then dip the biscotti in chocolate; pistachios and chocolate chips, then dip the biscotti in chocolate; espresso powder and chocolate chips, then dip the biscotti in chocolate.

– Cat

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Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Yes, you read that right, olive oil in a cake. Olive oil has been making appearances all over the dessert world for awhile. In the right uses, and the right varieties, it can be delicious. This was one of the first dessert recipes I ever made using olive oil, and I fell in love right away. It is a light, delicate cake, with a faint taste of lemon. My favorite thing about this cake is that you can eat it for breakfast. That’s right, this is a breakfast dessert cake, the only other cake I know of that can successfully toe that line is angel food cake- which I also love. This is a moist fluffy, almost good for you cake (look at the ingredients!) that can be eaten any time of the day or night.

I would recommend using a lighter olive oil instead of extra virgin in this recipe, I have used both and I find the flavor with the lighter olive oil to be more pleasant. To be honest I have no idea where I originally found this recipe, it’s all over the internet today, but for sake of fairness I’m going to credit Epicurious.

Ingredients:

¾ cup olive oil, plus additional for greasing pan

1 large lemon

1 cup cake flour (not self rising)

5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use

¾ plus 1 ½ tablespoons sugar

Method:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease springform pan with oil and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, lightly oil the top of parchment as well.

Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 ½ teaspoons and whisk together with flour. Halve, then squeeze the lemon and reserve 1 ½ Tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Beat together yolks and ½ cup sugar in standing mixer fit with a whisk attachment at medium high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.

it should look like this

Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil and reserved lemon juice. Mix until combined (it will appear separated, this is normal). Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until just combined.

Beat egg whites (from 4 eggs) with ½ tsp salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium high speed until foamy, then add ¼ cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.

this is what soft peaks looks like

Fold 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 ½ Tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden skewer comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side of pan. Cool cake to room temperature. Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment, then transfer cake to a serving plate.

moist fluffy deliciousness

A few notes:

I have made this cake with lavender sugar and it was lovely. You can also sub raw or turbinado sugar on the top for a bit of a crunchy texture.

I served this with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a touch of orange blossom water, and blackberries.

You could serve this with pretty much any fruit, any flavor whipped cream, or just all by itself.  It’s even good with a cup of coffee.

-Sue

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Savory Gruyere & Scallion Quick Bread

is it wrong to put cheese on cheese bread?

Not to belabor the point, but I like snacks.  Here are some of my favorite snacks:

Cheddar Flavor Blasted Goldfish – At one point my mother was stashing bags of these under her pillow.  One of the primary ingredients is crack cocaine.  Ask anyone.

Salami, Cream Cheese & Dill Pickle Roll-ups – Smear cream cheese on a piece of salami, roll up around a dill pickle. Best snack ever.

Assorted Pickled Things – Pepperocinis, bread and butter pickles, olives, pickled beets, etc.

Pretzels and Spinach Dip – Regular deli kind.

Radishes, Butter and Salt on Bread – Try it, you will love it.  And also feel French.

Enter Gruyere & Scallion Quickbread.  Delicious at breakfast*, as a during-cooking-dinner snack, also as a post-cooking-dinner-watching-X-Files-Season-2-on TV snack.  And you know, with soup and stuff.  Also, extremely easy.  The time it takes between thinking “I should make some Cheesy Scallion Bread” and putting the pan in the oven is about 7 minutes, provided you  have the ingredients.  You could easily omit the scallions if you don’t have any, you could mix nuts into the batter, anything really.

* That reminds me of something I want to rant about.  Why are all breakfast pastries sweet, if they are not bagels?  The huge majority of muffins, breads, rolls and biscuits are sweet, and for god’s sake, sometimes I don’t want 30 lb of sugar first thing in the morning.  Besides which, I just started putting sweetened condensed milk in my coffee in the mornings, so another really sweet thing is overkill.  Have we learned nothing from the popularity of the Bloody Mary?  People like some savory breakfast options.  That is all.

Gruyere & Scallion Quick Bread

1 3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp ground pepper

3 eggs

1/3 cup milk (I used 1%)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (or cheddar, or parmesan, or any kind)

3 scallions, finely diced

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and Pam a loaf pan.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.  In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and mustard.  Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, taking care not to overmix.  Fold in the cheese and scallions, pour into the loaf pan and sort of flatten it into the pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

that's my pretty butter bell next to it. i love it.

– Cat

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