Italian Fresh Cream Lemon Cake

D&D_1374 I have always heard about Italian Cream Cakes, but this is my first go with one. In a way it seems like lighter version of a pound cake and I did bake this in a bundt pan. Seems to make sense in a way.

I appear to be in cake mode now. Not sure why, but that does happen to me on occasion. Kind of like being in cookie mode for the last couple of months (read: 8 months). It is odd in a way, but I guess as humans we get into a trend of sorts and just go with it. Now, it is cake – not a bad thing, at least not in my opinion. We will see how this sorts itself out. Who knows? Not me – ever.

Maybe next trend will be cupcakes (if they are not too twee). Unsure at this point. But need something to transport them in.

I brought this cake to the office this Wednesday which is when our students are there – it seemed to be a success.  It really is a light version of a pound cake. I will make it again, but I really need more lemon in it. Maybe a lemon glaze. That always seems to make things better.

2 cups plus 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted for sure)
7 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
zest of one lemon, grated on a microplane
1 tsp vanilla or more which is not a bad thing -kind of always do more
2/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Spray a bundt pan with baking spray – yeah, just over do it if your have the kind of bundt pans I have (see below).  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light. Add the flour to the egg mixture alternating with cream. Fold in butter. zest, and vanilla.

Pour into (well) prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Testing with a wooden skewer – just to be sure. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then tump it out. Let cool for a few more minutes and dust with  confectioners’ sugar.

Notes: I just realized how many assumptions I made with the recipe – holy cow. I assumed all-purpose flour but the recipe I have did not make that clear,  and large eggs, and unsalted butter, wow could this recipe be more vague. I could have just made a huge mistake. But I am hoping I did not.

Source: An Italian in my Kitchen.com

Pan – Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan

 

Home Cooking can save the World

Home cooking can save the World – I heard someone say this recently,  and I started to think about … what does a statement like that really mean?  Is it true? When I get slightly sappy (not often at all) I think it might be true. But then the better part of me goes, um, no – because I don’t like to be sappy.

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My Mom’s Banana Nut Bread – A Tradition in my family.

But I do believe in home cooking and I do think it can make a difference, and I know that, as dumb as it sounds, I do think home cooking and passing on recipes, makes a difference in kind of the big scheme of things and in the kind of person you will turn out to be, and in the the way you will influence the next generation. Your kids, your nieces or nephews and if you are lucky their spouses too. I hate to say it, but I feel this is a dying art.

I know I would love to teach the Boy more than I have. But we have the Wednesday Cooking School – at least for now, until he gets busier at work, but so far it has been interesting and fun – it kind of makes me stupidly happy. I am glad he is interested in figuring out how I make the things he likes. I also know I should have asked my mom so much more. Thanksgiving reminds me of that every year – cannot get cornbread dressing correct – ugh.

I guess that I thought I would be able to ask my mom things for way longer than I was able to and that should put you all on notice, no really. Ask for those things and write them down better than I did. Although my mom’s recipe for roast beef – “it is seared when the smoke detector goes off” just makes me smile every time I think about it. It is pretty damn funny and it was also correct.

This has made me a fan of asking people I like for their family recipes. You know, old family recipes are important. They would not be around if they were not successful if they did not make people for generations happy. My friend Elaine’s carrot cake is an example. It was her grandmother’s recipe, and it seemed a bit strange to me – no butter? – but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten (Sorry Mrs. Fields). Damnation – I want to make one every week – yes, every week, but that would really work against me (in the clothing department).

 

Salted Crispy Oatmeal Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

I just could not help myself with this recipe. Honestly – how could I?  This, I think, is the longest title of a cookie ever – at least in my world. And there is nothing wrong with that.D&D_1352.jpg

Oatmeal means it is a “breakfast” cookie, especially when pecans (or any nut) are involved. And who knew from rice crispies? And butterscotch chips – they are always in my freezer, because you never know when they will be needed, right?  You need to be prepared – this is serious stuff, here people. Who can be caught with no butterscotch chips? Well, maybe that is just me. Okay, just me. I know.

The combination of all these relatively random things is pretty amazing.  Then again I only try one cookie in any recipe. I mean, once you have had one cookie, or maybe even some raw cookie dough (a favorite trick of mine because I really need an excuse to eat raw cookie dough), you know how the recipe works out. But not this time. Full stop. I had to have a couple of cookies because I could not stop myself, and honestly, that is very rare. Really rare. The MotH will vouch for that. Also, the office said that these were pretty frigging amazing. Which is praise indeed.  They don’t quite know that they are my recipe testers. I hope they don’t mind, because I want an honest opinion.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup quick oatmeal
1 cup rice crispies
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped pecans – Renfroes, of course
Maldon Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Blend in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture a little at a time until completely mixed in. Stir in oatmeal, rice cereal, butterscotch chips, and pecans. Using a cookie scoop, arrange dough on baking sheet with a couple inches in between. Sprinkle dough balls with Maldon salt. Bake 12 minutes, turning the pan half way thru baking time.

Cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bench Notes: 3 dozen or so cookies, depending the size of your cookie scoop. I do need to figure out the size of my cookie scoop. My guess – a generous tablespoon. But I could be wrong.

This recipe seemed like such a mix of things that I really like, I made it almost as soon as I found the recipe. I even went to the store to stock up on oatmeal, which I usually have but I had made way too many variations of oatmeal cookies this fall, and buy rice cereal which I do not keep on hand, but whatever is left is going to be rice crispy treats – which I love in a stupid childish kind of way.

I’m never really sure about the sprinkled salt thing. For such a long time it seemed to be a fad that seemed silly. That is not to say I do not own any finishing salts because I do, a lot of them (and that is a completely different post), but in this recipe that salt and that crunch from the Maldon was just the thing. It was so very right.

I so want to make another batch of them right now. Yep. I do.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Bars

So when I buy buttermilk to bake something I try to find other things to make with what is left. I know, I know, you can freeze leftover buttermilk, but I never seem to do it.

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Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

 

It is funny I do not remember my mom making anything with buttermilk – really nothing. Not even biscuits and that is strange for a Southern woman. I do not have it on hand all the time, but most of the time.

Most recently, I have used buttermilk in Savory Herb Muffins and in Basil Sun-Dried Tomato Mozzarella Bread, and of course, Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze which was the original intent of the buttermilk purchase. And now another recipe with just a bit of buttermilk in it.

In the grand scheme of things, it is kind of a test. What can you do with it, and make it different. Not just cake or biscuits or whatever – try to make a variety of things. I am sure the next time I have buttermilk (like now) homemade ranch dressing will be in my future as is often the case in the spring. And that always means spinach and mushroom quiche. One of my favorite things ever and a recipe I have had since before the boy was born – way before.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs canola oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup roughly chopped pecans (Renfroe’s, of course)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 x 13 inch baking pan*, spray with baking spray and line with parchment and spray again.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and both sugars. In a small bowl, crack egg, add canola oil, vanilla, and buttermilk. Add flour a little at a time. Stir in chocolate and pecans.

Spread dough, it will be thick, into pan making sure to get dough all the way into the corners. Bake 30 – 35 minutes until center is set and the edges are golden. Cool bars in pan and the cut into bite-sized pieces with a plastic knife because you do not want to jack up the pan with a metal knife.

Source: Baking Bites – one of my favorite baking sites. Must, at some point, figure out how many recipes that I have used from this site. I think there will be several.

* Love William-Sonoma Gold Touch Pans – they really are the best. Thank you America’s Test Kitchen for showing me how amazing these pans are. They really live up to all the hype.

Cranberry White Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

I thought this might be my longest recipe title for a cookie, but I now know that is not the case – just wait for it. I make cookies (or just bake) for people, it makes me happy – the Boy, friends, co-workers (who are also friends), and even occasionally I make something that the MotH* enjoys. This was a recipe I told my friend from Iowa about and made these cookies for them. As I have said many times, I do love a “breakfast” cookie (definition: any cookie w/oatmeal and nuts), but I have to admit that I was not sure about this recipe the first time I saw it about four years ago. I guess it was just the white chocolate, or any kind of chocolate for that matter,  because all the other flavors and the ones I added made this an instant favorite of mine, but I was still hesitant about the white chocolate. But once I tried these – thanks Dana! – I was so sold on them. They seem like a fall cookie, but as you can tell, I made them this spring for my Iowa friends – who I miss.

D&D_1305And I ate these cookies for breakfast. Yep. I did. Hello, oatmeal and pecans. Love me some “breakfast” cookies.

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg – yes, freshly grated
6 ozs dried cranberries – yes, by weight
2/3 cup white chocolate chips (or a 4 oz bar chopped up) Ghirardelli as usual
1 cup chopped pecans, Renfroe’s as usual – local is best.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and then add the oats.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time of course, mixing well after each and then add the vanilla.    Add flour mixture, which includes the oats, to the butter mixture in a few additions, mixing well after each. Stir in cranberries, white chocolate chips, and pecans.

Drop by rounded teaspoons (or cookie scoop) onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

*Man of the House

Source: My friend Dana –  have no idea where she found this, and kind of don’t care. I like recipes from friends. We both added things to the recipe. She added cinnamon, vanilla, and walnuts. I added freshly grated nutmeg and pecans to replace walnuts because we have amazing local pecans, and kept the vanilla and cinnamon. Duh.

I think I could make these cookies every week and eat all of them, but I just do not.

White chocolate surprises me on a regular basis. I do not expect to like it, but there are several cases where I do.

Butter Usage – by month – March 2016

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Meyer Lemon Bars

8 March – 16 Tbs – Raisin Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

11 March – 6 Tbs – Guinness Brownies

11 March – 16 Tbs – Pie Crust

12 March – 8 Tbs – Apple Walnut Pie

20 March – 13.5 Tbs – Walnut Muffins

24 March – 11 Tbs – White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

25 March – 16 Tbs – Meyer Lemon Bars

86.5 = 10.8125 sticks = 43.25 ounces = 2.703125 pounds

Not embarrassing, to say the least – in the butter use department. And I have to say that butter pie crust was so amazingly good. Now I am feeling slightly guilty about knowing the source for it. Will dig through lots of papers to figure it out.