one-rise pizza dough

I have a friend who swears by her homemade pizza dough recipe…all three rises of it.  It’s practically an all day affair to make it, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.  While I might spend all day making pizza dough once in a while, the vast majority of the time I just want to get it done.  Apparently, so did my mom.

This recipe came out of her archives and, in fact, was labelled “Mom’s Famous Pizza Crust.”  It’s fast, easy, and just an all-around good crust.  The recipe says it makes two, 12″ round pies but I found that resulted in the crust being too thin.  I made one thicker pie, which was plenty for the three of us with a side salad.  If you’re feeding more than that, double the recipe.  Then, top with your choice of goodies (it’s a hearty crust, so it withstands toppings well), and enjoy!

 

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One-Rise Pizza Dough (courtesy my mom’s recipe collection)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 c unsifted flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg dry yeast
  • 1 c tap water, very hot
  • 2 Tbps vegetable or canola oil

Directions:

  1. In large bowl mix one cup of flour, sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast, gradually adding hot water and oil.
  2. Mix or stir balance of flour and knead until smooth (about 10 min).
  3. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until dough is double in size (about 45 min).
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
  5. After dough has risen, stretch over a 12″ x 18″ greased pan or cookie sheet.
  6. Cover with toppings of your choice and bake 30 – 40 min.

 

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blueberry buckle

I didn’t take any pictures while we baked because a certain someone was eager to lick the bowl.  Also, we’re barely unpacked from a 2,100 mile cross-country trip and it was a small miracle just to find the camera.  This is just another classic summer fruit recipe.  Take advantage of fresh, local produce and do something good with it.  Personally, my favorite way to eat berries is right off the bush, but layered in cake batter and smothered in a crumbly topping isn’t bad, either.

There are a ga-zillion versions of blueberry buckle awaiting you on the internet.  I’m not sure this one is much different, at all.  It’s done in a spring form pan versus a cake pan, but that’s about it.  It would also be easy to adapt for baking in individual ramekins.  Eat it in the morning with coffee, or add freshly whipped cream or a little dollop of vanilla ice cream and call it dessert.  Versatile, but classically summer!  Enjoy!

Blueberry Buckle

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 c blueberries, washed and de-stemmed

Topping:

  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, cut in to mixture cold

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg to mixture.  Set aside.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add to butter/sugar mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with milk.
  5. Add blueberries.  Fold to combine.
  6. Place in prepared 9″  spring form pan, add topping, and bake for 35 minutes.

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***Baker’s Notes:  If you only have an 8 1/2″ pan, bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes longer.

nutella swirl pound cake

My local grocer had Nutella on sale the other day.  I stocked up.

Fortuitously, I also re-acquainted myself with this recipe while looking through some older pins on my Pinterest board.  At that very moment I was thinking, “I’ve got so many pins on this board I’ll never find anything to bake.”  And, then?  There it was.  Nutella Swirl Pound Cake.  And me having just stocked up on Nutella, and all.  It seemed like the only sensible thing to do.

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I have to admit I was sort of happy to be baking this by myself, because I don’t think I’ve ever tasted such creamy batter.  So delicious, I couldn’t imagine having to share the bowl with…anyone.  The yellow batter is spectacular.  Amazingly delicious.  I’m not sure why I was so moved by it other than the fact there was not a hint of granulated sugar to be felt on the tongue.  Truly the smoothest batter.  Ever.  Now add a couple of layers of Nutella and, well, there are no words!!

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Dip your knife or spatula in and swirl.  Make sure you do a good job of this.  I don’t think I swirled enough and my cake ended up a little bottom-heavy with Nutella.  Pop it in the oven and commence to bowl-licking.  Then, once it’s baked and cooled, pour yourself a tall glass of milk and enjoy a little slice of Nutella Nirvana.  Good stuff.  Good stuff.  Enjoy!

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Nutella Swirl Pound Cake (recipe adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes, Taunton Press, 2009)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup)  unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 13-ounce jar Nutella (see Baker’s Notes, below)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions until just incorporated. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.
  3. Spread one-third of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread half of the Nutella on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Nutella. Top with the remaining batter. Lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not over mix.
  4. Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve.

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nutellaswirl©zouptonuts***Baker’s Notes:  I don’t know what the original recipe said in terms of the amount of Nutella, but the adapted version I found over at Food & Wine suggested using the entire jar of Nutella (13 oz).  I love Nutella, but I have to say it’s overkill in this recipe.  It’s just too heavy and wet.  Half the jar would have been more than sufficient to create just what the recipe title suggests:  a swirl of Nutella.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious, but given the quantity of Nutella, I’d have renamed it just plain old Nutella Pound Cake.  That said, it was really good.  The cake was moist and creamy and difficult to resist.  I’d definitely make it again with the mentioned adjustments.

spice cake

This cake could be frosted, but there might not be enough left to frost after everyone discovers how yummy it is.  So, if you frost it, do so quickly.

There are no prep pictures of this cake because I threw it together on a whim one evening after a bout of tears in the grocery store parking lot.  We’d been decorating for Christmas and we opened up several boxes of things I’d brought from my mom’s house last fall.  It was hard.  Really hard.  Walk-away-to-get-my-car-keys-to-go-to-the-grocery-store-for-some-obscure-item-so-I-can-sit-anonymously-crying-in-the-parking-lot hard.

And if there’s anything to make me feel better in an emotionally charged moment, well, it’s a good cry in a parking lot and baking a cake!

As I said above, if you want to frost it, don’t let anyone near this cake until you’ve done so.  I planned on it (a nice brown butter drizzle would have been excellent), but it was sliced and packed into lunch boxes before I had a chance.  After that, consensus was just leave it be.  It’s perfectly delicious without frosting and frosting is messy in lunch boxes, anyway.  This cake would make a wonderful addition to a holiday brunch buffet, in which case I’d definitely frost it to give it that finishing touch.  I think you’ll love it either way.  Enjoy!

Spice Cake (recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c low-fat buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Grease a 13×9 baking pan, or grease and lightly flour a 9″ bundt pan; set aside.  Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high-speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and vanilla; beat till well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Add dry mixture and buttermilk alternately to beaten mixture, folding in after each addition just until combined.  Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in a 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes for the 13×9 pan, or 45 minutes for the bundt pan, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Cool sheet pan completely on wire rack.  If using bundt pan, cool for 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove cake from pan and cool thoroughly on wire rack.

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***Baker’s Notes:  The original recipe suggested baking in either the sheet pan or 2 8 1/2 inch cake pans, but I wanted a bundt cake.  Mine is a 10 1/2″ bundt pan which can hold between 10 and 15 cups of batter.  This recipe makes about 8 cups of batter, so my bundt pan wasn’t anywhere near full to capacity.  Therefore, the finished cake was a little thinner than if I’d used a smaller bundt pan.  My baking time was 45 minutes.  If you use a smaller bundt pan, just make sure to check the cake at about the 45 minute mark.  It may need a little more time.  When the cake begins to pull away from the edges of the pan, you’re just about there.

baked s’mores – not just for the campfire

Kat and I had a girl’s night last night while Daddy-O was at the Stanford/ASU game.  We baked homemade mac/cheese (her all-time favorite meal) and settled on the animated version of A Christmas Carol for after dinner entertainment.

But what of dessert?

Ice cream?  Too cold.

Popcorn?  Too last Friday night.

Baked S’mores?  Why, yes, please and thank you!

These are pretty much a no-brainer.  You don’t really need a recipe.  Just keep your eyes on the s’mores at all times lest they quickly turn to ash under the broiler.

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Baked S’mores

Ingredients:

  • Graham Crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate pieces (Hershey, Dove, you choose)
  • Parchment paper for easy clean-up

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat broiler to 500° F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Break crackers in half, placing one half on baking sheet and reserve other half to top your S’more.  (Or, bake both sides and eat them open-faced.)  Place one marshmallow on each cracker.  Heat under broiler until tops of marshmallows are golden brown.  Turn off oven and remove pan.
  3. Top melted marshmallow with the chocolate pieces of your choice.  For these I used dark chocolate Dove candies.
  4. Slide pan back in the oven for 25 -30 seconds, or until chocolate starts to melt.
  5. Remove and top with remaining graham cracker halves to complete your S’mores.
  6. Indulge!

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pumpkin chocolate chip squares

So, yesterday I spent too much time reading news and scanning the Twitter feed re: the current state of affairs in Washington D.C.  I’m a fiscal conservative.  Borrowing money to pay your bills is ludicrous.  You wouldn’t run your household budget that way, so why is it ok for the government to spend like a passel of reckless teenagers with a stolen ATM card??  (I’d refer you to the recent glitch in the welfare EBT system in which recipients of government-funded, i.e., my tax dollars, debit cards went on a spending spree…knowing full well their cards did NOT have balances to support their spending).  Get it?

Well, enough of that.  After an overload of (more) bad news out of our nation’s capital, I shut down (ha ha…no pun intended) the internet and headed to the kitchen to bake.  With ingredients I bought with hard-earned money contained within our monthly household budget.  Get it?

Oh, never mind.  Just bake these.  They’re yummy and perfect for fall – pumpkin, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and chocolate.  Good stuff.  Good stuff.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin-pie spice*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5/8 cup sugar (weighed on a kitchen scale = .625 ounces)
  • 1/2 large egg (approx 1 Tbsp and 1 1/2 tsp)**
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips (I used a combination of white and semi-sweet)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray bottom of 8 x 8 baking pan with Pam Non-Stick Baking Spray
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Approximately 30 – 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

*Pumpkin Pie Spice is easy to make at home:  Combine 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

**I halved this recipe which created the dilemma of halving an egg.  A typical large egg contains about 2 Tbsp egg white and 1 Tbsp yolk.  So, to half the egg, you’ll need 1 1/2 Tbsp of whipped egg (1 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp).

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***Baker’s Notes:  First, the original recipe called for chocolate chips.  I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but I had a partial bag I wanted to use up, so I divided the 6 ounces into half white chocolate, half semi-sweet.  The end result?  Perfect way to eat white chocolate.  You can’t even really taste the difference.  Secondly, because I halved the recipe, I ended up baking in an 8 x 8 pan rather than the 9 x 13.  Watch the baking time.  I pulled them the first time at 30 minutes, but quickly reconsidered because they’re much thicker.  Last, the one thing I might add to give this recipe a little more punch (not that they’re not delicious), is cayenne pepper.  Heat and chocolate and pumpkin.  Triple threat!!

cocoa fudge cookies

Two or three times a year we have a “movie night” in our cul-de-sac.  A neighbor has an inflatable outdoor projection screen.  They stream Netflix  through their iPhone and….well, I don’t know how all the techie stuff works, but I do know I got to watch Cars II on a gorgeous spring evening with a lot of other families and their kids, noshing all sorts of tasty treats.  That’s one of the rules:  bring a treat to pass!  There’s never a shortage of food…or wine, for that matter!

This time around we opted to bring cookies.  I was scanning the contents of my pantry and spotted the unsweetened cocoa, which became my inspiration ingredient because I’m always looking for an excuse to add cocoa to baked goods.  A quick Google search turned up these little lovelies from Cooking Light.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised when they baked up thin and crispy because the picture provided with the recipe clearly presented a thin cookie.  But I was surprised to bite into one and discover, between the crisp exterior, an almost brownie-like inside.  Thin, yes, but soft and chewy and nicely contrasting to the original texture.

These cookies were delicious on their own and perfect for dunking, but given their crispy outsides I think they’d also be perfect for making a sandwich cookie.  Maybe even an ice cream sandwich-type cookie.  I didn’t try it, but I would think the outer cookie would hold up nicely if you added a layer of ice cream after they’ve cooled completely.  Serve immediately, of course.  Cookies and ice cream are not meant to be eaten slowly.  Enjoy!

Cocoa Fudge Cookies (courtesy Cooking Light, January 2002)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, soda, and salt; set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
  3. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

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Nutritional Information (provided by Cooking Light):

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 78
  • Calories from fat: 31%
  • Fat: 2.7g
  • Saturated fat: 1.6g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 0.8g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Carbohydrate: 13.4g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Cholesterol: 7mg
  • Iron: 0.5mg
  • Sodium: 54mg
  • Calcium: 12mg

chocolate chip buttermilk banana bread

There isn’t a shopping trip to my local grocer that doesn’t involve bananas since we’re big banana lovers in this house.  As the weather heats up, my stock of frozen, over-ripe bananas increases dramatically because their shelf life seems to decrease dramatically.  You’re never supposed to put bananas in the refrigerator, but I guess you’re not supposed to keep them in a desert, either.  Point being, I always have some banana-bread-ready specimens in the freezer.

This recipe came to the top of my in-box recently via Anne at Uni Homemaker, a blogger I follow and whose recipes always look simple and delicious.  She had adapted her recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod who had, in turn, adapted it from somewhere else.  Along the way, the adaptations included less and less granulated sugar – a change I’m always happy to see, and more vanilla (also never a bad thing).  I was also intrigued by the buttermilk, and I just so happened to have a bottle in my fridge perilously close to its expiration date.

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I was feeling better about the reduced sugar when reality set in:  how good is any banana bread without chocolate chips??  Honestly, without them, I’m not sure anyone in this house would give banana bread a second glance.  So, for fun we threw in a few of those, too.  Who needs reduced sugar, anyway?  I’ll justify it by continuing to tell myself buttermilk has fewer calories and less fat than regular milk.  So, what’s a few chocolate chips, right?

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While the recipe originally said to cool completely before serving, there was no way that was happening.  Personally, I like mine a little warm so the chocolate has that decadent, gooey consistency.  To cool, or not to cool…that’s your dilemma.  Either way, it’s tempting, moist, and delicious.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 c mashed banana (about 3 medium)
  • 4 tbsp low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla until well mixed.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir in thoroughly.  Slowly fold dry ingredients into banana mixture being careful not to over mix.  Gently stir in chocolate morsels.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool the bread in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire rack until completely cooled.  Slice and serve.

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Baker’s Notes:   Since buttermilk is more acidic and quite a bit tangier than regular milk, I thought there would be a noticeable flavor difference between this recipe and my standard recipes.  I can honestly say, though, I detected no difference at all.  After our taste test, I perused the internet for other buttermilk banana bread recipes and found quite a few, most of which called for a lot more buttermilk – anywhere in the range of 1/3 to one full cup.  I also discovered that the tanginess in buttermilk is mellowed during baking, so I think 4 tablespoons isn’t enough to  make a perceptible difference in taste.  The final product was no less delicious, but I think I might make it again using more buttermilk to see if I can’t bring out more of the buttermilk flavor.

strawberry hand pies

We surprised my husband with a picnic dinner at one of our favorite parks the other night, which was a total blast and Kat had such a great time preparing for the “big surprise.”  We’d been texting back and forth with him late in the day to get an idea when he’d be home.  When he gave us the 20 minute warning, we taped a clue note to the laundry room door and set off for the park.  Once there, we tucked another clue note under my windshield wiper (presupposing he’d find the car with the clues we provided).  Fortunately, he’s a pretty bright guy.  Had he been a little slower on the uptake, he might have missed these little lovelies I’d baked for dessert!

I had a really busy day on Wednesday, so I didn’t have time to shoot the entire prep of the pies.  Needless to say, there was some finger licking and cursing – inwardly, of course, because working with any kind of pastry dough turns me into a bit of a lunatic.  You could use any berry you’d like, but since strawberries are coming in to season, I stuck with those.

The pies turned out beautifully and made the perfect picnic dessert.  No dishes or cutlery required.  Enjoy!!

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In spite of my cursing, they were a hit.

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Strawberry Hand Pies (recipe courtesy Country Living)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 cup(s) (plus more for dusting) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 stick(s) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 pound(s) fresh strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup(s) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoon(s) strawberry jam (I used Smucker’s Simply Fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon(s) sanding sugar

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add 1 egg yolk, 1/2 cup chilled water, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and mix until just combined. (If dough is dry or crumbly and doesn’t stay together, add up to 3 tablespoons more chilled water.) Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 2 to 3 times, just until dough comes together. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make filling: In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, confectioners’ sugar, and jam, plus remaining flour, vanilla, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, beat remaining yolk and 1 tablespoon water for egg wash; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut dough into 6 rounds.
  • Roll 1 round into a 6-inch circle. Spoon a heaping 2 tablespoons filling onto half of circle, leaving 1/2-inch border. Brush the edges with egg wash, then fold dough over filling. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal hand pie. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking pan. Repeat with remaining dough rounds and filling.
  • Using a toothpick, poke a few holes in the top of each pie. Brush with remaining egg wash and sprinkle each pie with 1/2 teaspoon sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Baker’s Notes:  The berry mixture only makes enough for six pies, but I had pastry dough enough to re-roll and make five more.  Adapt the berry recipe accordingly if you want to make more pies.  I froze my dough for another day.  Also, the recipe instructs you to make the berry mixture ahead and then set aside.  Because I had so much to do that day, I made the berry mixture too far ahead, which caused the berries to create a lot more juice.  So make it ahead, but only as long as it takes you to mix and roll the dough, otherwise you end up with a lot of fruit juice loss in the baking.  Lastly, as with any pastry, make sure your water is icy cold!

four fruit oatmeal crumble bars

I haven’t baked for a while, in some small part because 2/3 of the house has been down with the creeping crud.  I generally prefer not to hack and cough all over my goodies even if they’re going to bake at 350° for 40 minutes.  Yeah, that’s just gross!  So I’ve been out of the kitchen for a couple of weeks.  Good man that he is, hubs has been picking up the slack at meal time, but he’s not about to photograph it – even though last night he put together an amazingly good Shrimp Scampi….garlic heaven, people.  Garlic. Heaven!!!

Of course, this mandatory time off has forced allowed me to spend an awful lot of time perusing recipes on the interwebs.  That’s what laptops and iPads are for, right?  Just because you feel like death-warmed-over doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make yourself feel better by indulging in some foodie fantasy.  I might not have been capable of much else, but I could prop myself up on my pillow and imagine what I’d cook/bake if I ever stopped feeling like death-warmed-over.

This recipe caught my eye because it was so easy and so adaptable.  The original recipe calls for strawberry preserves, but a four fruit preserve made up of  cherries, strawberries, red currants, and raspberries sounded particularly delicious when I was picking up some other ingredients at the grocery store.  If you’re moved by a certain fruit preserve, have at it.  If I can find some pear preserves, that has the makings of a good combination, as well.

These fruit crumble bars are easy to assemble and make great school or after-school snacks for the kids, too.  Enjoy!!

2013-02-25

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Strawberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars (recipe courtesy The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 stick cold butter, unsalted, cut into pieces
  • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cup Oats (quick or regular)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jar (10 To 12 Ounce) strawberry preserves (or the preserve of your choice)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 or 8 x 10 baking dish.

Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle half the mixture into the pan and pat lightly to pack it a little tight. Spoon strawberry preserves evenly over the surface, then use a dinner knife to carefully spread it around. Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly again.

Bake until light golden brown on top, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan.

When cool, cut into squares and serve.

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Baker’s Notes:  I used regular rolled oats in the recipe.  The original recipe did mention slight differences in texture based on whether you use regular or quick cooking oats.  The regular rolled oats result in a crisper bottom crust and more crunchiness.  I think the quick cooking oats would result in a softer, chewier cookie.  Again, like the preserves, it’s all personal preference.