Baked Goods

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I never can resist a pun – last year I paid $91 for a t-shirt because it had a vegetable pun on it. Yup, I am a sucker for a pun. But the title here, play on words though it may be, is no joke. These tarts, galettes, or whatever you want to call them, are savory and so good. I can only take a little credit, since they borrow heavily from other sources, and I encourage you to riff still further on their basic elements.

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The starting point was this post on My Name is Yeh (congrats on the new book, by the way!). That everything bagel topping, I started dreaming about putting it on, well, everything. Except, apparently, pie crust. I envisioned a crust that was somewhere between a thin-crust pizza and a cracker, so I turned to a standby recipe that I’ve used plenty of times in the past, this whole wheat yeasted olive oil pastry from the NY Times. To make a more substantial dinner, I filled it with sauteed spinach, FINALLY delicious heirloom tomatoes, and a liberal sprinkling of Gruyere. There’s something really amazing about the garlic-onion-sesame that’s just bang-on with the slight funk of the cheese, and I couldn’t be more proud of these tarts if I’d thought of them myself!

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Spinach galettes with tomatoes and everything
Serves 4
Spinach, tomatoes and rich Gruyere in a crisp crust that brings to mind your favorite bagel.
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Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr
For the dough
  1. 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  2. ¼ teaspoon sugar
  3. 1 large egg
  4. ¼ cup olive oil
  5. 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  7. ¾ teaspoon salt
For the filling
  1. 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  2. 1 Tbs olive oil
  3. 12 ounces baby spinach
  4. 4 medium tomatoes
  5. 4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese, about ¾ cup
  6. 1 egg, beaten
For the topping
  1. 2 tsp dried minced garlic
  2. 2 tsp dried minced onion
  3. 1 Tbs poppy seeds
  4. 1 Tbs sesame seeds
  5. ¼ tsp table salt
Instructions
  1. Make the dough, about an hour and half before you want to eat.
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients. Stir in the oil and egg, plus about half a cup of warm water. Using the dough hook of a stand mixer or your hands, knead the dough until it comes together in a smooth ball. It's not necessary to work it too long. Place dough in a clean, oiled bowl, cover with plastic and leave to rise until doubled, about an hour.
  3. While the dough rises, heat the tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, a handful at a time, letting it cook down and release its liquid.
  4. Slice the tomatoes (tip: slice from the bottom of the tomato for slices that hold together the best) and place the slices on a couple of paper towels to absorb some of their liquid.
  5. Mix together all the topping ingredients in a small bowl.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  7. When dough has doubled in bulk, divide it in half; re-cover the half you're not working with while you form the first galette.
  8. Roll out the dough into a circle about 10 inches across. It should be quite thin, about an eighth of an inch.
  9. Place the dough circle on a piece of parchment paper. Brush the surface of the dough with the beaten egg to help keep the bottom from getting soggy.
  10. Place half the spinach in a thin layer over the dough, leaving a generous inch uncovered at the edge. Lay slices of tomato on top of the spinach, and then sprinkle with half the cheese.
  11. Fold the edges of the dough over the toppings, making the prettiest folds you can. Brush the crust with egg wash, and sprinkle the topping mixture generously over the dough.
  12. Repeat the whole process with the second half of the dough.
  13. Carefully slide the galettes on their paper onto a large baking sheet.
  14. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the cheese is beginning to crisp on top.
  15. Let rest for 5 minutes on a cooling rack before slicing.
Adapted from Molly Yeh & Martha Rose Shulman
Adapted from Molly Yeh & Martha Rose Shulman
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/

We are huge fans of The Great British Bake-Off here, and so of course it was quite upsetting to learn of the departures of most of our favorites from the show. But perhaps it was the influence of this program, with its absence of inflated drama and the genuine enthusiasm and camaraderie of the contestants that inspired me to enter a local baking competition this weekend. And, much to my surprise, I won best cookie! I can’t say it was a crowded field, but it was still satisfying to be the holder of a blue ribbon.

I wanted to make something original for the contest, knowing that I was unlikely to beat anyone through skill or know-how; I was aiming for a good concept, as well as a good bake, naturally! Last year some time, I made Christina Tosi’s (yes, a familiar face from another cooking competition show) cornflake-marshmallow-chocolate chip cookies, particularly the amazing crispiness the cornflakes add. Do you remember the old cereal commercials, which always showed a kid eating a bowl of Sugar Smacks or whatever, alongside a plate of toast and a glass of juice, with the voiceover announcing, “part of a good nutritious breakfast” (what kid eats toast AND cereal, I ask you)? Well, that was my jumping off point.

These cookies are probably not part of a good nutritious breakfast, but they take their flavors from that most important meal of the day. I started with the basis of a lacy, Florentine-style cookie with butter and oats and sugar, and added banana for extra caramelized goodness. Then I stirred in a mix of my favorite cereals; you could easily vary these depending on your preferences. Finally, to make a real showstopper, I sandwiched them with a slathering of coffee cream, using cream cheese to keep the sweetness from getting overwhelming.

It’s not the best looking cookie, I’ll be the first to admit, but it’s a winner taste-wise. And I’ve got the ribbon to prove it!

katy-wins

A Good Nutritious Breakfast Cookies
These sandwich cookies with a hint of banana flavor feature your favorite cereal, with a slathering of coffee cream in between.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
For the cookies
  1. 2 small, ripe bananas
  2. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  3. 3/4 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 egg
  5. Dash salt
  6. 1 3/4 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  7. 2 1/2 cups breakfast cereal of your choice - I used a mixture of Cheerios, lightly crushed corn flakes and Rice Krispies
For the filling
  1. 2 Tb unsalted butter at room temperature
  2. 3 Tb cream cheese at room temperature
  3. 2 Tb + 1 tsp strong brewed coffee
  4. 2 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pan liner.
Make the cookies
  1. In a large bowl, mash the bananas until mostly smooth. Beat in the melted butter, brown sugar, egg and salt. Stir in the oats.
  2. Gently fold in the cereal and mix until well combined.
  3. Drop dough by scant tablespoonsful onto prepared baking sheet. I found it helpful to use a spoon to pat down and shape the cookies gently, since they will spread some while baking and you want them to be as consistent as possible when you sandwich them.
  4. Bake until edges of the cookies are beginning to brown and the tops are dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
While cookies are baking and cooling, make the filling
  1. Beat together the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Sift in about a cup of the powdered sugar, then stir in the coffee.
  3. Add more powdered sugar until the filling reaches a spreadable consistency; you don't want it to be drippy.
  4. Spread the filling on the bottom of one cooled cookie, then sandwich another onto it.
  5. Eat and enjoy!
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/

If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll know that I tried and failed to make retes while we were in Slovakia. At the supermarket, there’s a selection of different refrigerated doughs, but all seemed more like puff pastry than flaky phyllo. One did specify it is for strudel, so we bought it, but when I unwrapped it at home it was a single thick sheet. I had tasked the children with collecting sour cherries from the half-wild stand of trees in the far reaches of the yard, and prepared a mixture of finely chopped walnuts and toasted breadcrumbs to fill the retes, but with just this single slab of pastry to work with, I had way more filling than I needed, as well as a lot of melted butter that needed to be put to use. So I improvised a cake, baked in a tart pan because that’s what I could easily dig out of the cupboard, and it was really good! But of course, I didn’t really measure any of the ingredients or makes notes for a recipe.

awesome girl big daddy and 2 appricots

Flash forward to this morning; I thought I’d recreate the cake so I could share it with you. But birds had gotten to the rest of the sour cherries, leaving us instead with an enormous dish of apricots from our trees, some a little knocked around it’s true, but all the better to cook with. Then there weren’t enough walnuts left in the cupboard, and oddly, none of the little village shops carried them, so I came home with hazelnuts: we have a bushy nut tree in the yard as well, but they won’t be ready until late autumn. I like hazelnuts, but they are a little more trouble than some other nuts, since their skins need to be removed unless you like the sensation of little bits of paper in your food. Further complicating things today, I found some parts of a blender in the cupboard, but not all the pieces needed to get it to, you know, actually work. So I had to chop the roly-poly hazelnuts by hand, which looked to be a nightmare until I realized I could smash them to bigger bits with a handy meat mallet (something no Central European kitchen would be without) and then more finely mince them with a knife. Making do!

apricots on an awesome tree

I wanted to bring in something more from the garden to make this cake really reflect the high summer season. We were sweltering for most of our visit here to Slovakia, and with the cool damp spring behind us, the garden has really exploded. I chose the tiny tender leaves of our thyme plant to add some of summer’s perfume to the cake, and while you definitely could leave it out, it really works with the tart apricot/rich hazelnut pairing. Try it!

Hazelnut teacake with apricots
Serves 10
Bright apricots top a nutty cake with herbal notes from fresh thyme
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup whole hazelnuts
  2. 10-14 fresh apricots
  3. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 3/4 tsp baking powder
  5. 3/4 tsp baking soda
  6. 3/4 tsp salt
  7. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  8. 3/4 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme (optional)
  9. 5 Tbs butter, melted
  10. 2 eggs
  11. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  12. 3/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. On a baking sheet, spread the hazelnuts in a single layer and toast until they are fragrant, their papery skins are cracking and the nuts themselves beginning to turn golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly; rub in a clean dishtowel to remove the rest of the skins.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Grease a 12" tart pan or springform pan.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the toasted hazelnuts a few times until coarsely chopped (you don't want them to start forming a paste). Scrape nuts into a large bowl.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and soda and salt to the chopped nuts.
  5. If you are using the thyme, rub it into the sugar to release some of the oils, then add the sugar to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
  6. Whisk together the melted butter, eggs, vanilla and yogurt or sour cream in a small bowl.
  7. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.
  8. Scrape batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Cut or tear each apricot in half, and arrange, cut side down, on the top of the batter (discard the pits). Sprinkle the top of the cake with additional sugar, if desired.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  11. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
Notes
  1. If you don't have the full 3/4 cup of yogurt or sour cream, just make up the rest with milk.
  2. If, like us, you don't have a food processor, you can more quickly chop the nuts by first crushing them in a plastic bag using a rolling pin or meat mallet, then take them out of the bag and chop with a knife.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/

Summer! How I miss you. If you’re like me, you think of summer as a relaxing, low-key time; you imagine lazy days, long evenings, letting the schedule slide. But then there’s: reality. The kids lay waste to the house, starting endless glue or paint related “craft” projects, then squabbling, then wanting to play Minecraft instead, until HOORAY, the camps begin. But wait – now it’s making sure everyone has swimsuits and goggles and sunscreen, who’s getting picked up when? Who needs a plain white t-shirt to tie-dye NOW? And the inescapable lunches. So many lunches. In fact you have to redouble your efforts because the long, active days call for extra sustenance. Luckily, summer also means fruit and plenty of it, which makes it much easier to fill up hungry kids.

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So here’s one thing that’s easy. These bars originate on a recipe card my mother gave me many years ago, but every few years I come up with a variation. These days, I’m using fresh fruit instead of a layer of jam, because who can pass up the tumbled piles of stone fruit and the gleaming berries that are everywhere in summer? Not me, that’s certain. These bars are sturdy enough to hold up in a lunch box or even for scarfing in the car as a quick breakfast. They’re full of whole grains and not too sweet either.

To bring out the juicy best of the fruit, I like to dice it up and let it macerate with some sugar for a few minutes while I assemble the other ingredients. And it really is just a few minutes – this recipe is supremely unfussy, mixes in a single bowl and can be modified any number of ways to suit your taste or what you have in the cupboard. Now that school days are here again, make the most of the last fruits of summer and make a quick batch of these bars for snacks. They pack well, or are the perfect after-school treats, and easy enough the kids can make them with just a little help.

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Fresh Fruit Crumble Bars
Yields 16
Quick and easy snack bars loaded with whole grains and fresh fruit.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound fresh fruit - strawberries, apricots, blueberries, peaches, plums are all good.
  2. 1 Tbs granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup flour
  4. 1 cup rolled oats (regular or quick cooking)
  5. 1/4 cup almond meal
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  8. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  9. 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  10. 4 Tbs water or fruit juice
  11. 1 Tbs honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line an 8" square baking pan with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Prepare the fruit: pit and chop larger fruit into fine dice, toss with the granulated sugar in a medium bowl and allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Stir in the oil and honey, and add the water or juice, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is uniformly moist and beginning to form clumps.
  4. Reserving about 3/4 cup of the mixture, firmly press the remaining mixture into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Spread the fruit evenly over the oat layer, making sure to get all the collected juices in as well.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the top of the fruit.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is brown and toasty and the fruit is beginning to bubble.
  8. Allow to cool completely before slicing into bars.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/

Our daughter was probably the last kindergarten girl alive to see Frozen. She was belting out the songs with the rest of her classmates for months before we finally got around to seeing the actual movie, when it had been showing at the second-string multiplex for ages. It was no surprise she knew all the characters and major plot points going in; hopefully these were no surprises to the other people in the theater with us, either, because my darling girl blurted out all the twists well in advance. Sorry, fellow movie-goers!

Keeping secrets is clearly not our strong point here, so I’ll give away the twist on this recipe and tell you that the surprise in these muffins is a deliciously creamy dollop of sweet cream cheese in the middle. Just like my now first-grader, I come late to trends: I had never tried the winning combination of brown sugar and cream cheese until recently. So good! Almost butterscotchy. I’ve been finding ways to use it everywhere.

These muffins are otherwise not too sweet and have good things like whole wheat flour and flax meal in them, so that not-so-secret center is a real treat, if not a surprise. It’s a little bit of a process to make each one, so if you’re feeling lazy straightforward, just drop a spoonful of the filling on the top when you’ve portioned out the muffin batter – it will sink down a bit under the weight of its own deliciousness, and be every bit as tasty.

Secret Center Pumpkin Muffins
Yields 12
Healthier muffins, with a sweet cream cheese surprise
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
17 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
17 min
Total Time
30 min
For the batter
  1. 1 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 1 cup all purpose flour
  3. ¼ cup flax meal
  4. ⅓ cup brown sugar
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1 tsp baking soda
  7. ¾ tsp salt
  8. 1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  9. 1½ cup pumpkin puree (contents of one can)
  10. 1 egg
  11. ¼ cup oil
  12. ⅓ cup buttermilk
For the filling
  1. 4 Tbs (2 oz) cream cheese, softened
  2. ¼ cup brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°, and oil a 12-cup muffin pan (or line with cupcake papers).
  2. In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese and ¼ cup brown sugar until thoroughly blended. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the flours, flax, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spice in a medium bowl. In a large measuring cup, combine the pumpkin puree, egg, milk and oil until well mixed. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined; the batter should be thick with some lumps remaining.
  4. Using a medium ice-cream scoop or a spoon, place a dollop of the batter into each of the muffin cups. Spread it around if needed to cover the bottom. Using two small spoons, drop about half a tablespoon of filling on top of the batter in each cup. Cover with the remaining batter, so each cup is about ¾ full.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° and bake for another 5 minutes or until the muffins are nicely domed and spring back when touched. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/