Tag Archives: Baking powder

Strawberry Shortcakes

Want to know how we celebrate the arrival of Spring?

Ta Daaaaa!

This is how we welcomed the beautiful season of rebirth and renewal. The season that’s going to take away the winter blues and lead us on that path toward the long awaited sunshine of gorgeous summer days.

I am so excited to know that spring has finally arrived. Even if the weather outside is barely 40 degrees… I don’t care. It will get better. Soon.

The strawberries I picked up from the Farmers Market had to be used up somehow before they went bad, and the vote was between a strawberry trifle or a strawberry shortcake.

As you can see, the shortcakes won. The trifle can wait.

Besides, the strawberry trifle does not translate well on photos. I tried it once before and it was a disaster.

These shortcakes are pretty to look at and even better to eat. I wanted to keep this recipe simple and traditional thus, for the cakes, I made biscuits with a bit of flour, some neufchatel cheese and orange zest. Beautiful.

The strawberries sat in their juices with some sugar for about an hour, and the whipped cream came out perfect. I chilled it for about 30 minutes before I whipped it with my mixer. That’s the secret – chill it before you whip it.

Strawberry Shortcakes

You will need:

For the Biscuits:

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 4 ounces (1/2 of a 8 oz. package) neufchatel cheese, cut in cubes
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon milk for brushing the tops

For the Strawberries:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup sugar

For the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

For the Biscuits:

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and orange zest in a large bowl.
  • Pour in the neufchatel cheese and mash it with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

  • Stir in 1/3 cup of milk and form a dough.
  • Flour hands and divide the dough into 8 balls.
  • Place the dough balls 3 inches apart on a greased baking sheet or silpat.

  • With a glass flatten the dough balls to 1/2 inch thickness and brush the tops with milk and sprinkle a bit of sugar on top.
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

  • Take out the biscuits and allow them to cool down to room temperature.
  • In the meantime prepare the strawberries.

For the Strawberries:

  • Once you have cleaned and sliced them, take 1/3 of the strawberries and mash them with a potato masher.

  • Add in the rest of the strawberries and pour in the sugar.
  • Set aside for at least 20 minutes.

For the Whipped Cream:

  • Meanwhile prepare the whipped cream by combining together the whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • When chilled, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.

For the Shortcakes:

  • Assemble the shortcakes by cutting the biscuits in half.
  • Place a tablespoon of the strawberry mixture on the bottom half of the biscuit and top with whipped cream.
  • Cover with the top half of the biscuit, and top it with whipped cream and a few more strawberries.
  • Serve immediately or put the cakes in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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Pear Crumble Muffins

I have one more photo I would like to share with you from this past weekend:

I can’t believe she spent the entire day with the pacifier in her mouth! A flower girl with a paci…

But, this is not about her pacifier (and my aversion toward it – yuck!); this post is about the pint-sized member of this family and her love for pears.

I mentioned here that from the time that we introduced solids to her, she was hooked on pears. By the time she turned a year old, she was picking them from the tree in our backyard (the branches were crawling on the ground and so was she) and eating them with the skin on.

This particular recipe came about as she and I were picking the last of the pears this past fall. I wanted to make a pear crumble because that is my favorite dessert with pears, but I also wanted something different. And since I had made an apple pie muffin the week before, it dawned on me that I could just make a pear crumble into a muffin!

I know… Not like it’s never been done before, but I had never seen it, so for an instant there I thought I was a genius! Then Google told me that it’s been done at least 80,000 times…whatever! I still went ahead and made it all on my own without looking at any of those other recipes… take that allrecipes people!

These are amazing! No really, they are delicious. Sweet, moist, and real fluffy!

I have been playing around with this recipe for a few months now and I think I finally got it. It was the yogurt…the plain, and not the flavored yogurt, really did it this time. I had used flavored yogurt in the past and that was just too much; you couldn’t taste the pears. This worked much better.

Pear Crumble Muffins

You will need:

For the Fruit:

  • 2 large pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

For the Batter:

  • 2 cups of AP flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter

Directions:

  • Preheat oven at 375.

The Pears:

  • Combine the flour and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
  • Pour in the chopped pears and toss to combine. Set aside.

The Batter:

  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg, oil, milk and vanilla.
  • Stir into the dry ingredients until just moistened.

  • Stir in the pears.
  • Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full.

The Topping:

  • In a small bowl prepare the topping by combining the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Chop in the butter and mash it all together with a fork until crumbly.

  • Sprinkle the crumble over the muffin batter.
  • Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Cool for a few minutes before removing the muffins from the pan to a wire rack.

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Macedonian Pastry Shop: Tolumbi

Before I continue with today’s post, I would just like to show you a picture of our weekend that was filled with fun, music, food, and love. Lots of love. And it was one of the reasons why I was missing from the blogging world for a couple of days; My daughter, Ana, was one of eight flower girls at my best friend’s wedding!

The beautiful bride, me, and Ana

Congratulations Julie and Riste! I wish you a lifetime of happiness, health, and lots of kids! I love you!

Onto the Tolumbi (Toe-loom-bee)!

A Macedonian Pastry Shop, or a Слаткарница – Slatkarnica (Slaht-car-knee-tsa), is a spot for, first and foremost, excellent sweets, then a great cup of espresso or cappuccino, accented with a yuppy decor, good looking chairs, sofas, and a delicious conversation.

This is my favorite Pastry Shop/Cafe in my hometown of Bitola, Macedonia.

photo credit

Moreover, a Macedonian Pastry Shop does not serve just Macedonian pastries; you can find a variety of delicious sweets, from tiramisu to eclairs and macarons, to baklava and ravanija.

Even though we Macedonians make use of the great variety of fruits, nuts, and spices that are cropped all over the country to prepare our traditional desserts, there are also desserts that are produced in Macedonia but are typical to all the countries from the Balkans and beyond. Such a dessert is the tolumba, which is believed to have Turkish origins.

Tolumbi are one of the most sought out for desserts that can be found inside of the fridge at any local pastry shop in Macedonia. This is a delicate pastry dough which is dropped into hot oil, soaked in a sugar syrup, and enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea.

To keep it light, I do not fry the tolumbi; mine are baked. There is a slight difference in texture (no crunch :(), but for the sake of healthy eating, some things have to be compromised. The good news is that the delicious taste is still there.

And I should tell you that my mother just about murdered me when she saw that I baked the tolumbi. She was beside herself, “How dare you mess with the classics… Tolumbi are always fried!”, was her response. Oops…

Tolumbi

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups of AP flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 eggs

For the Syrup:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 slices of lemon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Mix the flour and baking powder together, set aside.
  • Mix the water, sugar, oil and salt in a saucepan, bring to a boil.
  • Add in the flour mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the saucepan.

  • Transfer the mixture into another bowl and allow to cool.
  • Add the eggs one at a time to the cooled mixture.
  • Place portions of the mixture in a piping bag with a wide star shaped tip.

  • Pipe out the mixture onto a baking sheet, each cookie should be about 4 inches long.

  • Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

In the meantime prepare the syrup.

  • In a medium saucepan combine sugar, water, and lemon slices.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved.
  • Allow to completely cool.
  • Place cooled syrup in a deep bowl.
  • Place the cooked tolumbi into the syrup and let them sit in there for 30 minutes.
  • Remove tolumbi from the syrup and drain.
  • Place on a plate and serve.

Fried Tolumbi:

  • Pipe the mixture into a saucepan containing hot oil, cutting the tolumbi to about 4 inches.
  • Cook until golden in color.
  • Cook 4 to 5 tolumbi at a time depending on the size of the saucepan.
  • Place the tolumbi into the cooled simple syrup and let sit for 30 minutes.

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Apple Walnut Cake with Simple Syrup

Monday morning. Hubby is at work, munchkin is taking a nap, and I am in the kitchen… Where else would I be? But, today’s kitchen duty is special; I am following a recipe to the “T”! Why? Because it’s my mother-in-law’s recipe. And you know what that means: it better be the best apple cake that I have ever made! 🙂

Fortunately Unfortunately, my in-laws live across the oceans, rivers, mountains, and seas, and they will not be able to taste my creation. But, don’t worry, their son is here and he will definitely know if this cake is like Mama’s, or not. We will find out soon. Munchkin and I are going to surprise him by taking a piece of this cake to him at work. He will be so excited!

And through the magic of the internet, soon is here (lunch with daddy was fun!) and the verdict is in: He loves it! In his own words, “Not quite like my mom’s…it must be the different climates, environment, oven (bla bla bla)…but I love it! It might even be better than mom’s!”. Cha-ching!

The only thing I did different was the addition of apple slices on top of the cake. Maybe that is why he thought it was better? Shrug

The cake really is delicious. Moist, light, and sweet. Thanks for the recipe, Mama!

My Mother-in-Law’s Apple Walnut Cake

You will  need:

  • 3/4 cup instant wheat grits
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 4 apples, grated

For the Simple Syrup

You will need:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sugar

Garnish:

  • 1 apple, quartered then thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, excluding the apples and walnuts.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  • Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir in the apples and walnuts.
  • Mix it all together until well blended and let stand for about 20 minutes.

  • Put the mixture in a 9×13 cake pan and bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

In the meantime prepare the simple syrup.

  • In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved.
  • Allow to completely cool.

When cake is done, let it cool for a couple of minutes.

  • Cut the cake into bars while it is still in the pan, then pour over the cooled simple syrup (see the bottom of the recipe for tips on simple syrup).
  • Let cake stand on the counter for 30 minutes so to absorb the syrup.
  • Lastly, cut an apple into thin slices, toss them in a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, then arrange them on top of the cake. Drizzle a bit of the syrup on top of them.

About simple syrup:

If the cake is cool, you need hot syrup.

If the cake is hot, you need cold syrup.

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Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Spring, is that you out there?!? Holy sun, I missed you!

Remember how I whined about the weather here, and here, and probably here? Well, whine no more because it is sunny and 56 degrees out there today!

This morning I woke up at my usual 6-ish, had a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal, and I took off. I was standing in front of the grocery store waiting for them to open at 7 am. I was there to pick up whatever I could find that would remind my kitchen of warmer days.

I saw some apples and pears, but they are not a reminder of warmth – that says cold weather. I also tasted the berries… um, no taste! It was as good as eating one of those plastic fruit arrangements that my grandma used to have as a centerpiece on her kitchen table.

I kept moving along the produce aisle and I laid my eyes on some pineapples. They looked really good – perfect golden color, they were firm, and they had a yummy sweet smell. I put one in my basket, paid for it, and came home just in time before my husband had to leave for work.

He left, Ana ate breakfast, and then the two of us (yeah, she helps in the process of making a bigger mess 🙂 ) got down to business.

You can tell by the lighting on these photos that I made this cake earlier in the morning – it was probably about 8:30 a.m. when I began to separate the eggs. That’s how eager I was to make something spring-ish as soon as possible.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

You will need:

  • 1 fresh pineapple – peeled, cored, and sliced into rings
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted, divided
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Melt the butter, but keep the sticks separated. That is, melt 1 whole stick in one bowl, and the other half of a stick in another bowl.
  • Brush a little bit of the butter on the inside of a 9 inch cake pan.
  • Mix half of a stick of butter (4 tablespoons), melted, with the brown sugar and add in 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice.
  • Pour the brown sugar mixture in the bottom of the cake pan.
  • Arrange the pineapple rings on top of the brown sugar mixture. Set pan aside.

  • Stir together the flour, salt, white sugar, and baking powder.
  • Separate the eggs.
  • Beat the whites until stiff.
  • Beat the yolks until lemony yellow.
  • Stir in the remaining pineapple juice, vanilla, and remaining melted butter.

  • Add this mixture to the flour mixture.
  • Gently fold in the egg whites.

  • Pour batter over the top of the brown sugar and pineapple rings.

  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes.
  • Remove it by covering up the pan tightly with a serving dish and invert so that the pineapple side is up.

And once Ana went to take her nap, Mama made herself a fresh pot of coffee to enjoy with a piece of this amazing cake! I just wish it was Sunday, my “Eat Whatever The Heck You Want Day”, so I could have a few more slices.

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