Nectarine Pie

 

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Usually I get excited for autumn which is my favourite season above all. When it gets here I’m all about scarves, candles and apples and cool weather. I just wish it would wait a little bit longer. As much as I love autumn, I’m not quite ready for summer to be over. Particularly since I don´t feel it´s been a summer at all this year with low temperatures and lots, lots of rain. But luckily the last weeks we´ve had several days of sun and heat, and I was reminded that I’m not ready to move forward into autumn yet. I want more summer!

The good things about autumn though, is the abundance of (Norwegian) plums and apples which are my favorite fruits. On the downside, it´s the end of nectarine season, which is another favorite of mine. So the last days I`ve been buying a lot of nectarines, just in case it would be my last chance.

They are no longer at their peak, but still delicious, and this weekend I decided to put some of them into a pie. Before they are gone. Luckily plums will be there to fill their gap. For a while, at least. The season is way too short for stone fruits…

This nectarine pie might be my last chance to celebrate stone fruit for awhile. Be sure to make it before the nectarines have vanished for the year! Each bite of this sweet, decadent pie tastes like summer. Even if summer never was here, this pie makes it feel like it.

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Nectarine Pie

Prep time
1 hour 30 mins
Cook time
1 hour
Total time
2 hours 30 mins
Pie crust:
150 g all purpose flour
115 g cold butter
3 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch/22 cm pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.

Filling:
4 nectarines
100 g marcipan
1 egg
50 g sugar
1 tpsp cornstarch
pinch of salt

Slice the fruit in half and remove the pits. Place the nectarines flat side down and cut into thin slices. Place the sliced nectarines in a large bowl and toss with cornstarch and half of the sugar.

In a small bowl, stir together egg, grated marcipan the rest of the sugar and salt.

Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Arrange the sliced nectarines on top of the filling in any way you like. Or don´t arrange them at all, and just toss them over. Still pretty, and equally tasty – but less fuss.
For once I took the time to make a litte effort arrenging the fruits.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake on 180 C for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. Allow to cool completely to room temperature before slicing (the filling will thicken as it cools).

Enjoy with a dollop of creme fraiche and savour the sweet, juicy taste of summer!

Notes:
The pie was very sweet, so I think one easily reduce the amount sugar, or even omit it. The nectarines are sweet on their own, and even more so after they´re baked, and the marcipan also adds sweetness. But don´t leave out the marzipan, as it makes the filling sweet, but also buttery and creamy. So that will be at your own risk.

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Danish”Hindbærsnitter” – frosted raspberry pop tarts!

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I have tasted Hindbærsnitter twice in my life. Today, making these, and a year ago, when I made my first batch ever of Hindbærsnitter. This was embarrassingly enough also my first taste of hindbærsnitter after 5 years in Denmark, where these sweet pop-tart-looking things appear and are sold in every bakery  you go by. And lord knows I´ve been around those Danish bakeries quite often, so I´ve had several opportunities to try them out. Buuut there were always some Cinnamon-rolls or other tempting goods that got in the way, so I never really got around to it. But last summer I made a lot of raspberry marmalade, and I needed to put it to use, so I thought of the so-called Hindbærsnitter and decided to give it a go. And it was good, I tell ya… And I couldn´t help but thinking: What took me so long? Why haven’t I tasted them before?

(Well I´m not sure if this really counts: I mean, I´ve only tasted my own , never a true Danish hindbærsnitte, so for all I know, my version might be waaaay off. But I don´t think so, though. I´ve done my recipe research, so I think a Dane would approve…)

And fast forward to today, I´m where I was a year ago. I needed an excuse to keep me busy inside, as it´s pouring down outside, and to treat myself with something sweet…  After all it´s suppose to be my summer holiday, and with this weather and temperature I thought I deserved a day on the sofa, accompanied by baked goods, coffee and a good book. So I stayed inside making raspberry marmalade and went on baking Hindbærsnitter. Luckily, they came toghether quickly and without much effort, so the rest of the day could be spent relaxing enjoying the results…

Like I remembered, they were lovely. Really sweet both by their look and taste. I might have gone a little overboard with the frosting, but who cares. Days like these crave sugar…!

Hindbærsnitter

  • 250 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 250 g cold butter (chilled and cubed)
  • 250 g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • + about 300 g raspberry jam

Frosting

  • 400 g confectioners sugar
  • + water or lemon juice

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the dough: Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the egg. Mix just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.

Refrigerate for 3o minutes.

Make the tarts: Divide the dough in half, and place on a lightly floured work surface.  Roll the crusts with a rolling-pin into a size of 12×25 cm and  3-4 mm thickness.

Bake in a preheated oven until the edges are lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. (Be sure to keep an eye on them, time depends on how thin you roll them) Allow to cool on the baking sheets.

Meanwhile, stir together the confectioners’ sugar and water/lemon juice and make a spreadable frosting. It should be quite thick. Spread one of the cooled tarts with frosting and sprinkles. (I used freezedried berries) Spread raspberry jam out on the other pastry.  Sandwich them together, the frosted pastry on top of the raspberry spread. Press them a little together if you manage, and cut into (in)appropriate sizes.

Serve once the frosting is completely set or not, if you can’t wait (like me) and like it a little soft and sticky. Now all you need is a blanket and a cup of hot beverage, and something to read, and the summer-rain can just keep coming…cause I´ve got hindbærsnitter, the perfect accompaniement on a rainy day!

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Rhubarb muffins

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Rhubarb season is finally upon us! My favorite season? At least one of my favorite vegetables! Yes – it´s a vegetable!!!

When rhubarb arrives and you see various recipes for rhubarb crumble, lemonade and muffins – it´s a sure sign of spring and a promise of summer. I might try out a new recipe each year, but I usually fall back to crumbles and this old classic: My mother´s rhubarb muffin. Mum knows what she´s doing already, so no need to change or tweak this. It´s simply perfect.

So when I visited my parents yesterday, I made a request for some rhubarb, and in my defense the saying says to pick it within midsummer which is only a few days away….So I took home a large bunch to do some baking. When my father saw me and the rhubarb he suggested the muffins. He loooves them. So do I. Actually, everyone does. So the idea was planted in my head: What better way to start rhubarb-baking-season than with a real family classic!

So, today, equitted with rhubarb, eggs, butter and apron I realized: The recipe is in my recipe book which currently is located in copenhagen! And my mother is out of town!!! What to do? Well, luckily, it´s not the only rhubarb-muffins-recipe on the planet (one of the best, perhaps) so I turned to google as I often do and found what seemed like a good replacement!

And indeed it was! Actually, in a way this is a more extravagant version of the usual…

Maybe a little less gooey, but my go-to-recipe is so gooey you need a spoon, so that´s maybe a little overexaggerated for some! 😉 Anyway – both equally delicious!

I hereby declare rhubarb-season for opened!

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Rhubarb muffins

Rhubarb compote/ Rabarberkompot
10 oz rhubarb / 300 g rabarbra
1/2 vanillabean/ ½ vaniljestang
2.5 oz sugar / 70 g sukker

Clean and cut the rhubarb in inch-sized chunks. Pour rhubarb, sugar and vanillaseads and bean in a pan and stir. Cook on medium heat until everything is soft and compote-looking.

Rens rabarbraen og skjær dem i skiver på 2-3 cm
Ha rabarbra, sukker, vaniljekorn og den halve tomme vaniljestang i en gryte – og rør det sammen. La rabarbraen simre ved middelvarme til de er møre og minner om en grov pure.

Muffins

3 eggs / 3 egg
6.5 oz sugar / 180 g sukker
8 oz flour / 220 g mel
2 tsp vanilla sugar / 2 tsk. vaniljesukker
1.5 tsp baking powder / 1,5 tsk. bakepulver
5 oz butter (melted) 150 g smør (smeltet)
4.5 oz marcipan finally chopped / 120 g revet marsipan

Whisk egg and sugar until creamy. Stir in the dry ingredients and the melted and cooled butter. Finally fold in the chopped marzipan. Divide the batter in muffin cups, and top with a spoonful of the rhubarb compote. If desired, sprinkle with crumble!  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 F.

Pisk egg og sukker til en luftig masse.
Rør alle de tørre ingredienser i og det afkjølede smør.
Vend til sist revet marsipan i muffindejen.
Fordel deigen i muffinsformer. Top med rabarbrakompott og drys en teskje crumble over.
Bag ved 180 grader i 20-25 min.

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Banana-coconut bread

I love banana bread.

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For various reasons:
1: Bananas
2: It´s called bread, but it´s actually a cake in disguise.
3: You can play around with it and add whatever, and it usually works!

Which means, to sum it up: you can make it as bread-like, or cake-like as you want, use different kinds of flour, wheat, spelt – whole grain or not, adding nuts chocolate or other things, even make it sugar free – and the banana bread can handle it!

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Banana bread is therefore very forgiving to work with, which is perfect for me as I have a hard time following a recipe to the point. I usually end up adapting it, intentionally or not, usually because I don´t have the exact ingredients on hand, and I´m too lazy to go out get it once my mind is set on baking.

This time however, I planned on following the recipe, as I found the pictures and description of the cake very intriguing. As all other recipes on this blog. Check it out! What made this different from other banana breads, was the caramelization of the bananas. Anything caramelized is just… better!
So that would be unchanged, that was for sure.
But somehow I ended up making my own version of the recipe, as I had some almond flour I wanted to use. And I usually try to make cakes more whole grain when I can, as I know I will be the one eating it sooner or later, the same thing about sugar: I often reduce the amount (so I can eat more 😉 and besides, for banana cake, a lot of sugar is usually not needed as the bananas themselves add alot of sweetnesss. Especially if you use brown bananas. The browner – the sweeter – the better!

I had a good amount of frozen brown bananas put aside for this cake, which finally could come togehter on a rainy sunday! I was a litte curious about the result, but even if the cake became somewhat diffrent then the original recipe, I thought it was delicious and a perfect afternoon treat! The banana-coconut flavour was a lovely combination even without the chocolate! I´m sure added chocolate would be lovely too, but without, you could always add some nutella or other chocolate spread if you get the cravings!

I allowed myself a decent slice with butter on top, because there no such thing as butter on freshly baked goods. Next time, I can try chocolate. But the cake on it´s own is perfectly good too! And actually quite healthy, after I twisted the recipe a litte around! Enjoy, one way or another, I´m sure it´ll be delicious either way!

Roasted banana and coconut cake – my way!
(Adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:
4-5 browned bananas
175 g flour/ 1 1/4 cups –
(I used about 75 g almound flour and all purpose/whole wheat flour)
50 grams/ 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
75 grams/ 1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 dl/ 1/3 cup canned coconut milk (may swap butter milk or greek yogurt)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (or swap canola oil – which I did)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50 grams / 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 200 C or 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Peel the bananas and lay them flat on the baking sheet, and sprinkle with sugar. Roast them for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the bananas are very golden brown and caramelized. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, mash the bananas and set aside. Reduce the oven temp to 175 C / 350 degrees F.
Spray a 9×5 loaf pan thoroughly with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, combine the different flours, baking soda and salt, whisking thoroughly. Set aside.In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Add in coconut milk and canola oil, whisking until combined. Stir in mashed bananas and vanilla until mixed. Slowly stir in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the toasted coconut. Pour batter into the greased loaf pan and sprinkle with the remaining unsweetened coconut flakes.

Place loaf pan on a baking sheet and set in the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until center is set. If the top begins to brown, tent the bread with aluminum foil. Remove and let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Bread will keep (covered) for 3-5 days.

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Super moist bananabread with pecans!

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First things first: Is it banana bread? Or is it banana cake? To me, it´s cake. I mean, when I can choose between cake and bread – well, the answer it pretty much given… And another thing, why would one call it bread, by any means? It contains lots of sugar, butter, fruits and no yeast – unlike any bread. But you do, usually, bake it in a bread-like-pan…. So I guess that´s why it´s got it´s bread-name. Anyway, who cares, as long as it tastes like cake! And when you can present it as bread, though in reality it is a cake, everyone´s concience is clean: The baker´s and the eater´s. (Or mine, as it would be called in my case…)

I had some very overripe bananas lying around – and so starts every story of a banana bread. (cake)
Actually, I had kind of let them overripe on purpose, so I could have an excuse to bake with them! But only partly…My mother bought all kinds of food, and pretty much filled my fridge and freezer before she left, so it was inevitable that something would – not go to waste – but, end up in baked goods. Maybe that was her plan all along. Ahh, she knows me too well!

So, Sunday came, the bananas were brown as ever, and I had cake-cravings! Off to the bookshelf to find a nice recipe. I do have a couple of winner banana-bread recipes, that are just amazingly good, but I´m kind of in this getting-to-use-my-cookbooks-flow for the moment, so I grabbed three candidates and started the search. I almost turned to Dorie, again, but then it would be a bundt, and not a loaf. I wanted a loaf. And I feel with her, I shouldn´t change the recipe too much, I have a feeling it´s best to leave it to her. And I wanted to use some yoghurt and nuts, cause that´s good stuff in a banana bread. So, finally, I picked the banana pecan bread, from Leila Lindholm´s Piece of Cake. The picture of that bread was one of the first things that got stuck on my mind from that book, along came many other things… And one of the reasons I got the book! Besides, it´s so pretty! But, I haven´t really baked anything from it yet besides a bread, so it was about time I started the serious business – on to the cakes!

I adapted the recipe slightly, substituting some of the butter with yoghurt, powdered sugar with sugar, and some of the flour with whole wheat, but the original recipe goes like this. And I only had 3 bananas… But I don´t have the measurements I used, so I present to you the original recipe!

Pecan-banana bread

150 g butter
1 dl sugar
2 dl powdered sugar
4 ripe bananas
2 eggs
3 dl flour
1 ts baking powder
pinch of salt
75 g pecan nuts

Stir the sugars and butter light and creamy.
Mash the bananas (keeping a few chunks if you like – I know I do!) and stir them into the batter. Add the eggs. Mix the dry ingredients and pecans, and gently fold them into the batter. Pour into a buttered loaf-pan, and bake the cake for about 30 minutes in the center of the oven. (Mine needed longer) A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Allow to slightly cool, and dig in!

This cake can be served pretty much any way you like: Warm or cold, with our without butter, nutella, ice cream….you get the picture. I thought it was really good straight from the oven, warm and nice, so that the butter I added just melted into the cake. But on the other hand, it´s also really good the second, or third day, when it has had time to set – then you really get the moistness of this cake… Yummy either way!

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Brownies with walnuts and browned butter

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I´m home on holiday – again! I know!!! That´s the advantage of having my exam after Christmas – getting an extra vacation! So, that´s pretty nice… I came home last weekend to Celebrate my boyfriend´s mother´s birthday, cause she was turning 60, and having a big celebration. And the plan was to fly back on Sunday for my exam the following monday. But, it turned out, that after my exam there weren´t any lectures until February! And as the exam was a home-exam, well, why not stay at home in Norway writing it? After all, that is my primary home! So I did! And now I have a good week at home to do – well – bake? It´s not like I have anything else scheduled! Well, other than seeing family and friends, of course. But those things are very well combined. Last night, I had a friend over while my boyfriend was at football practice. Our initial plan was meeting at a café and then going to the cinema, but poor as we are, we decided on a night at home instead.

I promised her some baked goods, and had my mind on brownies. She´s pretty much a chocoholic (yeah – blame her…) and, well, ok, I was having massive chocolate cravings, so brownies seemed just right. And easy enough to gobble on when you´re deep down in the sofa, under the blanket, watching tv. Important. So, the one thing I was going to do that day, was baking a batch of brownies before her arrival. But did I manage? Nooo. I spent too much time gazing out the window. Facebooking. Warming my hands above the oven. Staring out the window again. And searching for recipes – brownie recipes. I had borrowed the Hummingbird bakery cookbook from my mother, and was planning to make the basic brownie recipe from that book. But then I had some extra time on my hands, and starting searching online for recipes…

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And then I found these. They looked insanenly good. I was a little surprised to see that the brownies were made of cocoa, not chocolate, I mean, being a brownie, and all! And still – they looked so chocolatey! But, than again, I do recall a super-moist chocolate cake made from cocoa, so that didn´t put me off! I was a little afraid that the basic Hummingbird brownies weren´t gooey enough, or fudgy enough to my like, cause I couldn´t really judge by the photos. And to me, that´s what brownies are all about. Fudge and goo – yes please! I realized that the ingredients and measures in the cocoa brownies were the same as another Hummingbird-recipe, the frosted one, though without the frosting… So, I decided on that one, and got to use the book after all! I just tweaked the methods, to go with Alice Medrich´s approach. And also with her addition of browned butter…..mmm.

So, I never managed to bake the brownies before my friend arrived. But what´s good, is that these brownies come together in no time! Cause we were gonna have brownies, that was for sure! I just whipped them together in a hurry after dinner, and within an hour, they were served! And maybe it was just as good I didn´t bake them in advance, because what´s better than warm, fudgy brownies, straight from the oven?It was the perfect accompaniement to Bridesmades, a glass of milk and good company!

Verdict: Fudgy? Check! Chocolatey enough? Check! Good? Hell yeah!
So yes, the brownies lived up to their expectation, and to the photos – Luckily!

Bake away!

brownie

Cocoa Brownies
(Adapted from Alice Medrich)

Makes 16 larger or 25 smaller brownies

10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams, though some brands may weigh more) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 grams) walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 170°/ 325°F. Line the bottom and all 4 sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with foil and coat with nonstick vegetable spray

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and continue to cook, whisking gently, until it is golden brown and the milk particles suspended in it are reddish brown. Remove the pan from the heat and stop the cooking by immediately adding the sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Stir to blend. Let cool for 5 minutes; the mixture will still be fairly hot. (Well, I didn´t have time for that – instant chocolate cravings! And they still turned out beautifully!)

Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula after adding each one. When the mixture looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add all of the flour and stir until you no longer see streaks of flour, then beat vigorously for 50 to 60 strokes with the wooden spoon or the spatula. Stir in the nuts.

Spread the batter in the lined pan, swirling the surface if you like. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges almost clean (the brownies will still be soft and gooey even if the toothpick looks clean). Cool in the pan on a rack.

Lift the edges of the foil liner and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Slide a metal spatula under the brownies to detach them from the foil (or invert the brownies and peel off the foil, then turn the brownies right side up again). Cut into 16 or 25 squares. The brownies keep stored airtight, for 2 to 3 days.

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Carrot spice muffins

We´re having a group project at school for the moment. It´s not really hard. There´s really not a lot to do. It´s not very time consuming. We just have to get together, from time to time, to figure out what to do next and to plan and divide the tasks between us. Quite frankly, I feel like I´m having a vacation, because there are so little to do, so few lectures, and the ones we have finish before noon, so there´s a lot of time waiting to be filled! It´s not like I have a job, a specific hobby or workout schedule, so what else to do than bake! Wait, I guess that IS my hobby! 😉

I´ve been trying out a few recipes from my beloved Baking from my home to yours, which I feel obliged to, as it was such a hassle to get it. But within the muffin section I have only tried one recipe – the great grain muffins. On the other hand, I´ve baked them a couple of times, cause they are so tasty! But if the rest of the muffins are as good as them, I think I ought it to myself to bake my way through them! I wanted to bring some muffins to school for my group to enjoy, for a day we planned to stay at school finishing our project. And since I and my fellow students study nutrition, I decided the carrot muffins would be appropriate! Slightly healthier, but still with the sweetness and moistness of a regular carrot cake, but without the frosting. Though frosting probably could work out very well too… (Or maybe omitting the frosting is the the health-alibi. Whatever. When you put vegetables into muffins it equals healthy in my world!)

So, the verdict: They were absolutely lovely! I got praises and requests about the recipe from the group, they were a total hit! I loved their moistness, but without that greasy feeling. And they´re just sweet enough, without leaving you with a feeling of going into a sugar-coma. And – believe it or not – I actually didn´t miss the frosting! I did put some butter on, just to try it out, but I guess that´s just me. I butter everything! But there was really no need to. I did cut back a little on the oil and sugar, which wasn´t a problem, and next time I´ll try to substitute some of the flour with whole wheat too. And, before you dig in, I have to say: let them cool. It´ll be worth it. The flavour intensifies and they become so much better! And I loved the different textures provided by the carrots, raisins and walnuts. I didn´t have coconut, so I left that out, but I guess that would be a nice addition texture- and taste-wise! I´ve actually never tried coconut in carrot cake, so I guess it´s time to face that fear! Next time. Because there will certainly be a next time with these!


Carrot Spice Muffins

from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola, safflower or corn
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup shredded carrots (about 3, peeled and trimmed)
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/3 cup moist, plump currants or raisins
1/3 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted, cooled and chopped

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pans, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – a few lumps are better than over-mixing the batter. Stir in the carrots, coconut, currants, and nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. Or just leave them the way they are!

Chocolate cake for 2012

Happy new year everyone!
How was you new year´s eve? Full of festivities, celebrations, good friends and good food? Well – in that case, it was the opposite of mine. No, I´m not complaining, I actually had a great new years eve, it just didn´t turn out exactly as planned. But many good things in life happen by accident! Not that anything actually happened around here. Quite eventless, is a good way to describe the last day of 2011. We woke up quite late, or extremely late, to be accurate. We had spent the night at my parents after enjoying our christmas present for them, which was a basket full of quality cheeses, sausages and ham. Sneaky? Nooo… It was noon when we had our breakfast, but in our defense we slept really bad that night, or hardly at all. By this time our plans for the night were a little uncertain, since my sister had cancelled our original plan. Usually we spend new year at their house along with another couple, and me and my boyfriend are in charge of turkey (him) and cake/dessert (me – surprise!) So the turkey was alredy bought and I had my eyes on a certain cake. We thought of inviting some other people, as a 5-kilo turkey is slightly too much for two people, but as I was feeling a cold developing too, we decided that it would be best to take it easy. Low key-new years eve was our plan! And that plan, my friends, worked out indeed. Did you know you could watch the fireworks on tv? You don´t even have to get up from the sofa. Just place the food in front of you, enjoy the meal from the sofa, have a few films laid out, and you´re good to go! Well, we actually sat down by the dining table to eat – turkey deserved that, after all. But if we had planned this, we would probably go all the way with homemade pizza, and pizza, as you know, is best enjoyed from the sofa, in front of the tv. Well well, maybe next year! Or this year, actually.

The fact that we were going to have a 5 kilo turkey for dinner that night, didn´t stop me from making the cake I planned to bake for 8 people. You could think that a big dinner was enough, but I say a big dinner deserves a big dessert. Or to be honest, I´d be making this either way, no matter the size or shape of dinner. No way I´d let a New Years eve pass without cake! Unheard of! Oh no, I was making this cake. I couldn´t let it pass even if I wanted to, the pictures of it would haunt my dreams until I made it. I found the recipe via Tastespotting, on a random search for chocolate cake. And this appeared. I rest my case. Who can look at this and not make it? Certainly not me. I wasn´t going to let sickness and a 5 kilo turkey get in the way of me and this cake. So I made it. And I suggest you do the same…

Moist Chocolate Cake (Foodess.com)

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water, or simply 1 cup boiling water)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch baking pans and set aside. In the large bowl of a standing mixer, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract; beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Stir in hot coffee. Pour batter evenly between the two pans and bake on middle rack of oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

The cake turned out beautifully and tasty. The flavour was so rich and chocolatey. I was a little surprised by that, since there weren´t any chocolate, just cocoa powder. But I guess that´s what made that deep rich flavour. But…it didn´t turn out as moist as I´d imagined. I´d probably be perfectly happy with it, if I hadn´t seen those pictures of that insanely moisty fudgy cake. But I had. I think I know what did it, though. I didn´t add all the coffee, as I didn´t bother to brew more than I already had, (yeah, yeah, the lazy chef strikes again!)so the batter wasn´t as runny as supposed to. And I guess a runnier batter will make a moister cake, or what? I think that has to be it, cause I followed the recipe otherwise! Next time – cause there´ll be a next time, many next times – I´ll follow the recipe closely. And maybe subsitute some of the cocoa for chocolate? And definetely make more frosting. It´s a big cake, it needs its frosting. Especially to cover up for lacking moistness. Oh yeah, I´ll be making this over and over until perfection strikes! This recipe is a good starting point!

Rhubarb muffins

Hooray! First of all, it’s spring! And summer is here soon, though it feels like it’s already summer here today. 18 degrees C and sunshine – that’s summer, whether I’m here in Denmark or home in Norway. And secondly, and most importantly, rhubarb is in season! Nothing says spring or early summer more than rhubarb desserts and muffins. Although I love rhubarb in a strawberry/rhubarb pie, this soup, my mother’s rhubarb compote, rhubarb crumble……..this, is what exites me most! This is first on my rhubarb-list. Then comes the pie, that’s really good too…and it brings back memories from past summers, when my family have friends over and we just sit eating, talking, laughing and munching into the Norwegian summer night that never gets the chance to go dark, before the sun rises again. Lovely. But that’s another story. I’m a sucker for nostagia, especially the summer-related kind. Can’t help it. Now for the muffins. These darlings are a newer acquaintance, but instantly became a hit in my family, and I’ve been making them at least a couple of times every rhubarb season since. What surprised me the most when I first made them, was how incredible moist they were. We actually had to get a spoon, and scoop out the delicious muffin-rhubarb-goo and eat it like a mini dessert from a paper bowl. But the good thing about it, although I like to eat things with a spoon in general even if it’s not needed, I find it very comforting, was that we could really scrape every last bit of muffin out of the muffin cup. Very nice. And economic and ethically right, not to waste food. Which brings me to why I made these muffins right now. We have a group project at school to prepare a meal for about 200 people, sell it, and make all kinds of budgets, PR, hygienic controls. It’s quite a project. And it has to be a somewhat sustaineable meal. So we decided to go for a koncept of exploiting the nature in a good way, to go out and find edibles in the forest, your backyard or on the way to work for that matter. To use whatever’s in season, and to shop locally. So since rhubarb is in season, I suggested it, since a lot of people have it in their gardens. But mostly, to have an excuse to make them. What can I say, they are de-licious. And a smash hit with my fellow group members. And it looks really pretty. I’ve never had that purple rhubarb before, and it gave the muffins an almost plumlike pinkish colour. But tastewise, it’s all the same. Phew.


Rhubarb Muffins

100 g butter
2 dl sugar
3 eggs
ca 2 dl flour
1,5 teaspoon baking powder
0,5 dl rhubarb juice
250 g rhubarb 0,5 dl sugar
0,5 dl water

Cut the rhubarb into pieces and bring to a boil together with sugar and water. Boil until the rhubarb softens. Strain the rhubarb to squeeze out the juice. In a bowl combine the sugar and butter and stir. Add 1 egg at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture. Turn the rhubarb syrup carefully into the batter. (If you use the purple rhubarb, to make a marbled effect. Or just turn it in if you want a pink batter! If you use the pale rhubarb it doesn’t really matter.) (I also made a batch of unmarbled muffins, so you can skip the straining if you don’t bother or want to. That works too! But I think I’d do it, I think it makes them so deliciously moist.) Fill the cups 3/4 full, and top with a spoon of rhubarb in the middle. Bake for about 10 minutes for the small kind, and 15 minutes for large. Sift with powding sugar or make a simple glaze, and give them a whirl. And dig in, armed with a spoon for maximum pleasure…. They’re best eaten while warm, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Or served lukewarm, that also works. Or cold with a warm cup of tea as a late night snack when the Scandinavian summer air turns crisp. These are flexible babies! But whatever you do – just do it. Make them.

Classic Blueberry Pie

So, here we are again. Me and my berries. Last box I couldn’t fit in the freezer. Not that I’ve tried, cause these berries were set out for something greater. Blueberry pie. Nothing beats a good old classic blueberry pie. (Well, maybe apple pie…) I don’t make it that often, though. Neither of them. I don’t make pies as often as I’d like, actually! And I love pies! Why has it come to this, I wonder… Of all my favourite desserts, pie is high up there next to molten chocolate cake and cheesecake. And the best part – you can fill your pie with whatever you want – whatever’s in season or whatever craving you’re gonna satisfy – a freshly baked pie always works. A flaky colden crust, with a warm gooey filling, whether ist’s soft apples with cinnamon and sugar, pinkish rhubarb and strawberries, frangipane and plums or a black pool of bubbly blueberries. And paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. It’s not for nothing pie has become a smash-hit dessert world wide! I totally get it.

Still, pie finds its way to my table not as often as it should. I guess it’s just that little extra effort. And that little extra effort seems a lot when it’s just me and my boy. And it’s usually just the two of us. And the fact that my pie pan is huge doesn’t really help. But I guess it’s mostly lazyness. Pastry and chilling the dough and all. So pie has become more rare than I’d like, a dessert for special occasions, almost. Which is kinda funny, pie beeing the homey, rustic dessert that it is. And maybe not the “right” thing for special occasions, probably more for non-occasions. But whatever! Everyone likes pie, and that’s what matters.

This time, the occasion was dinner with my family. I’m going to Copenhagen to study, so I threw a little goodbye-dinner before I pack my bags and go. Secondly, and more importantly, it was those berries. The season’s last container of blueberries. (I have plenty more, don’t worry, but they are frozen for blueberry-craving winter days) I’d planned this pie for a month. I could not get it out of my head, and needed to get it out of my system. Glad I did, cause it was delish! It really satisfied my pie needs. The crust was golden, flaky and buttery. The filling was divine. A sweet and syrupy blackish blue sea full of juicy berries. It was still lukewarm when I served it, which was just perfect for the ice cream. And right now, I’m glad my pie pan is huge. Cause now I can munch on lots of leftovers! Yaay!

Blueberry Pie (Recipe from Joy of Baking)

Pâte Brisée Crust
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon (30 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter cut into 1-inch pieces and well chilled or frozen. (1 cup = 2 sticks of butter)
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 – 120 ml) ice water

Filling
4 cups (570 grams) fresh blueberries, washed and dried.
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons (20 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

Egg wash
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon cream

Method
Prepare the crust: In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/4 cup water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the dough in half, flattening each half into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour.

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, remove one portion of the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Fold the dough in half and gently transfer to a 9 inch (23 cm) pie pan. Brush off any excess flour and tuck the overhanging pastry under itself, crimping as desired. Refrigerate the pastry, covered with plastic wrap, for about 30 minutes before filling with the berries.

Meanwhile, remove the second round of pastry and roll it into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. Using a 2 1/2 inch (6 cm) star cookie cutter, cut out about 20 stars. Or hearts. Or whatever cutter you have! Place the stars on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling: In a small bowl mix together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest. Place the blueberries in a large bowl. Add the sugar mixture to the blueberries and gently toss to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell. Then, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and cream. Lightly brush the rim of the pastry shell with the egg wash. Starting at the outside edge of the pie, place the cut out pastry stars or circles in a circular pattern on top of the blueberries, making sure the tips of the stars are touching. Once the top of the pie is completely covered with the pastry circles, brush the entire surface with the egg wash, making sure that it does not pool. Place the assembled pie back in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Remove the chilled pie from the fridge and place on a larger baking pan, lined with parchment paper, to catch any spills. Bake the pie for about 20 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Continue to bake the pie for about 35 – 45 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown color and the juices are bubbling and thick. If the edges of the pie are browning too much during baking, cover with a foil ring. Place the baked pie on a wire rack to cool for several hours. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream. Pie oh my.