Huckleberry Pastry Puffs

Do you want to create culinary magic? Fill homemade puff pastry rounds with wild huckleberries and prepare to be wowed. These flaky little four-bite pastries will melt in your mouth, and I’m telling you, there is nothing that compares to the flavor of huckleberries.

Of course, if you don’t have access to huckleberries, blueberries are a good option. I found frozen organic wild blueberries that are impossible to tell apart from huckleberries, so use whichever variety you can get your hands on.

Rough puff pastry is really very simple to make. (You could use store bought puff pastry, but it will be more crisp and brittle.) Once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably want to use it for lots of other treats, like danish, croissants, or strudel. Here are two of my favorite strudel recipes: Sour Cream Apple Strudel and Sausage Breakfast Strudel. The dough can hang out in the fridge for days (let it sit out on the counter for 30 minutes before using or it’ll be really hard to roll out) or can be frozen. It’s not much harder to make a double batch, and it’s wonderful to have some tucked away for later.

I made the dough and filling the night before and rolled, cut, filled, and baked the little puffs the next morning – in about an hour. You know what makes it go really, really fast? A potsticker press! You can find one for less than $5.00 on Amazon (search for “dumpling press”) or at an Asian market, and I know you’ll find many uses for it. It won’t languish in your kitchen drawer, I promise.

I’d go for the cheap plastic model. This one has lasted years.

Go easy on the filling!

Huckleberry Puffs
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Makes approximately 8 flaky pastries, each about the size of a puffy potsticker. I use a potsticker press in this recipe, but if you don't have one, fold the dough round over the filling and press together firmly with a fork.
Ingredients
  • HUCKLEBERRY FILLING:
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen berries
  • pinch salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons cornstarch if using fresh berries, OR...
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch if using frozen berries
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • ROUGH PUFF DOUGH:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ⅔ cups ice water
  • ASSEMBLY:
  • 1 egg white
  • Powdered sugar for dusting, or drizzle with a simple powdered sugar/water glaze
Instructions
  1. FILLING: In small pan, combine berries, sugar, and salt over medium heat, stirring continuously until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Pour or spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of the hot berry juice into a small cup or bowl and add the lemon juice. Stir. Slowly add cornstarch, stirring until smooth. If necessary, add a bit more berry juice.
  3. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the berries and turn heat back to medium. Stir until the mixture thickens, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow filling to cool. (To cool quickly, place pan in shallow bowl of ice water.) Once cool, refrigerate until needed.
  4. PASTRY DOUGH:
  5. Place flour on work surface, stir in the salt, and drop the butter onto the flour.
  6. With a bench scraper or metal spatula, chop the butter and flour together until combined. Don't overwork the mixture - you want to see chunks of butter larger than peas.
  7. Begin drizzling the water over the mixture with one hand, while flipping and tossing it with the other. Again, don't over do it! It should be a crumbly mess at this point.Use your metal utensil to form the dough into a rough rectangle about 5"x 8".
  8. Roll out dough to approximately 6"x10", using the metal scraper to form straight edges. Keeping the short edge facing you, Flip the bottom edge up to the middle (it will be crumbly...just do the best you can) and the the top edge down to the bottom. This will create three equal sized layers. Give the dough a turn to the left, lightly flouring the surface if necessary to keep it from sticking, and repeat. Repeat 3 more times. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (It can be refrigerated for several days.)
  9. ASSEMBLY: If your dough has been refrigerated more than an hour, place it - still wrapped in plastic - on the counter to warm up for 20-30 minutes.
  10. Heat oven to 400 F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment.
  11. On lightly floured surface, follow the previous method and roll and fold it two more times. Add flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking.
  12. Roll dough out into a rectangle that is approximately 14"x24". Using a round cutter that is the size of your potsticker press (about 4"), cut circles as close together as possible. As you work, stack the dough scraps on top of each other to keep the layers intact when you re-roll them.
  13. Whisk together the egg white and 1 teaspoon water.
  14. Lift one round at a time and place on the potsticker press. (Flour the potsticker press as needed.) With finger or pastry brush, spread a little egg white around the perimeter.
  15. Place 1 teaspoon filling in the center and fold the press over. Press firmly along the rounded edge for a good seal. (If you aren't using a press, fold the dough over the filling and press edges with fork.) Place on prepared baking sheet, keeping puffs at least ½" apart.
  16. You can roll the scraps one time. They won't be quite as flaky, but they're still very good! Cut remaining rounds and discard any scraps.
  17. Poke a fork in the center of each puff one time, brush lightly with egg white mixture, and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  18. Use spatula to move puffs to a cooling rack. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with icing once the puffs are lukewarm.

 

Stir the berries and sugar together and bring to a boil.

Stir cornstarch mixture into the hot berries and cook until thickened.

Chop (don’t blend!) the cold butter into the flour.

Yup, it’s a little messy, but flip the flour with one hand while you drizzle water over it with the other. You can doooo it!

It’s going to look like this the first time you roll it. It’s okay. Really!

It’s a crumbly mess, but fold it into thirds. Just do your best!

See? It looks a lot better when you get to the third roll/fold.

Roll dough out thin and cut into 4-inch circles.

Re-roll your stack of scraps. Stacking them keeps the butter layers going in the right direction.

Add the filling. Not too much – about a teaspoon. Any more and it will really ooze out.

Poke each puff once with a fork and brush with egg white. Bake!

Drizzle or dust – either way is delicious.

Don’t let those bears get the upper hand here. Put on your hiking boots, strap a can of bear spray to your hip, and hit the woods for some wild mountain huckleberries. Those little gems are priceless indeed, and worth every single damn mosquito bite!

Lorinda

Bear Farts! (Huckleberry Doughnut Drops)

Bear Farts - The Rowdy BakerBy now I should know better than to ask my husband to help me find a name for a new recipe; his sense of humor never evolved past fourth grade. But I have to admit, his suggestion made me laugh, and if you’ve ever wandered through the woods looking for huckleberries, you have probably seen lots of proof that bears found them first, and ate a ton of them!

To continue the bear theme with these delightful little cake doughnut drops, I made mine with honey instead of sugar. Buttermilk and a little fresh lemon are added for a touch of tang, but the huckleberries are really the star of the show.

Use fresh or frozen wild huckleberries, or small blueberries if you must. Expect to have a few escapees, as some will leap to their destruction in the hot oil. That’s a little distressing, since I know exactly how long and hard I have to pick to get a cup of berries, but the end result is worth the sacrifice. (Hint: Scoop those stray berries out of the oil between batches of Bear Farts. You don’t want them to cook into little black chunks that will stick to your lovely creations.)huckleberries aug 7 2016

These are very easy to make. Messing with the hot oil is the only time-consuming part of the recipe, but I’m just not crazy about baked doughnuts, so…I indulge in the real thing once in a while.

Oil is expensive. I use peanut oil (about $13.00 a gallon), and if I’m using my big stock pot it takes almost a gallon to get the oil deep enough. That’s a pricey batch of doughnuts! But you can use a smaller pan and just cook fewer doughnut drops at a time. You can also filter the used oil (cooled down, of course) through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer and keep it in the refrigerator until you need it again.

Keep an eye on your thermometer and try to keep the oil at 350 F. If it gets hotter, the drops will get brown before the inside is done – not a good thing. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the doughnut drops, and layer them between paper towels to remove excess oil.

Remember, these aren’t light and airy like yeast doughnuts. They’re moist and dense, like…well…cake. Cake doughnuts are really best when they’re eaten fresh; they lose a little of their appeal by the next day. Eat ’em up!

Bear Farts! (Huckleberry Doughnut Drops)
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Makes about 48 doughnut drops. This can vary, depending on the size of your scoop.
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons oil (I use peanut oil)
  • ¾ cup honey
  • zest and juice from one medium lemon
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup huckleberries, divided (If using frozen berries, keep frozen until needed.)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • oil for frying (peanut or canola work well)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, oil, honey, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat until frothy.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large pan or a deep fat fryer, add at least 2 inches of oil and a candy thermometer. Heat to 350 degrees.
  4. While oil is heating, gently stir ⅔ cup of berries into the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and stir JUST until combined.
  5. Once oil is the proper temperature, use a small cookie scoop (or two spoons - one to push the dough off the other) to drop small amounts of dough - about a rounded teaspoon full - into hot oil. They won't be perfectly round; shapes will vary wildly!
  6. BE VERY CAREFUL! Wear oven mitts and watch the temperature of your oil constantly. Try to keep it between 350 and (at the most) 375 F.
  7. Use a slotted spoon or spider to roll the doughnut drops over. When they are a rich brown, remove and layer between paper towels to drain.
  8. Place remaining ⅓ cup of huckleberries in a small pan on low heat with 1 teaspoon water. Cook, stirring (and mashing) occasionally, until berries are soft and have released their juice. Strain the juice into a small cup. Reserve the mashed berries for another use, like a smoothie or ice cream topping.
  9. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl and add huckleberry juice while stirring, until it creates a thin glaze. Roll warm doughnut drops in glaze and place on waxed paper or a cooling rack to dry.

 

Beat the liquid ingredients until frothy.

Beat the liquid ingredients until frothy.

Add berries to dry ingredients, then add liquids. Don't over-mix!

Add berries to dry ingredients, then add liquids. Don’t over-mix!

Use a scoop and drop it like it's hot!

Use a scoop and drop it like it’s hot!

Keep the temperature steady and let them get nice and brown on the outside.

Keep the temperature steady and let them get nice and brown on the outside.

 

Betcha can't eat just one!

Betcha can’t eat just one!

Bear Farts from The Rowdy Baker

Summer is waning, but I think I have a few more recipes in me before we all embrace the pumpkin and pecan frenzy. Peaches and plums, then pears and apples…lots of fun seasonal foods are still calling to me, and I’ll share!

Lorinda

Sour Cream Apple Strudel

Sour Cream Apple Strudel - The Rowdy BakerWhile traditional strudel is fun and challenging to make (all that stretching), by far my favorite strudel to eat is kind of a cross between pie and strudel. The dough is made from “rough puff pastry”, (which is a quick and easy version of the much more complicated puff pastry dough) instead of classic strudel dough.

Compared to store bought puff pastry, rough puff pastry doesn’t puff quite as high, nor does it shatter as easily when you cut or bite into it.  I rolled my dough out very thin, which also reduced the puffiness, so it was the perfect dough to use for this recipe.

I wanted flaky, I wanted delicate, and I wanted just the right crust-to-filling ratio. Easy was a very nice bonus!

If you’re feeling motivated and want to play with stretchy dough, try my companion post, Classic Apple Strudel.

I’ve never been crazy about hot apples, especially when they’re in a sticky sauce like a traditional apple pie. I will, however, fight you for the last slice of Sour Cream Apple Pie, because it’s so mellow and creamy – especially when it’s warm, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

That was the flavor and texture I was shooting for, and was exactly what I got…on my very first try! I added some boozy, rum-soaked raisins and finely chopped pecans, and was thrilled with the results. The normally unflappable Mr. Rowdy was enthused – extremely enthused. He may have even thrown a “WOW WOW WOW!” in there as he inhaled half of the finished product.Bite of Sour Cream Apple Strudel - The Rowdy Baker

Tips:

  • If you want to serve this for breakfast, go ahead and make the dough the night before. Wrapped snugly in plastic, it will be waiting for you to roll it out, fill, and bake. (Let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or it will be a real bear to roll out!)
  • If you’d like to go for the glory and have even more layers, you can make 4-layer folds by folding each short end into the middle and the folding them together.
    For more layers, you can fold ends to meet in the middle...

    For more layers, you can fold ends to meet in the middle…

    ...then fold together, creating a 4 layer turn

    …then fold together, creating a 4 layer turn

Sour Cream Apple Strudel
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This strudel is made with a quick and easy homemade puff pastry. Filled with apples, sour cream, rum-soaked raisins, and toasted pecans, it will become a family favorite! Serves 8-10.
Ingredients
  • DOUGH:
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • ⅔ cup very cold water
  • *****
  • FILLING:
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup rum (or use apple juice, if desired)
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (more to taste) cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup toasted pecans (or walnuts), finely chopped
  • ***********
  • ASSEMBLY:
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. DOUGH:
  2. Cut 1 cup cold butter into pieces approximately 1-inch square.
  3. Place flour on work surface, stir in the salt, and drop the butter onto the flour.
  4. With a bench scraper or metal spatula, chop the butter and flour together until combined. Don't overwork the mixture - you want to see chunks of butter larger than peas.
  5. Begin drizzling the water over the mixture with one hand, while flipping and tossing it with the other. Again, don't over do it! It should be a crumbly mess at this point.Use your metal utensil to form the dough into a rough rectangle about 5"x 8".
  6. Roll out dough to approximately 6"x10", using the metal scraper to form straight edges. Keeping the short edge facing you, Flip the bottom edge up to the middle (it will be crumbly...just do the best you can) and the the top edge down to the bottom. This will create three equal sized layers. Give the dough a turn to the left, lightly flouring the surface if necessary to keep it from sticking, and repeat. Repeat 3 more times. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Make filling while the dough chills.
  7. FILLING:
  8. Place raisins in small pan with rum over medium heat. When rum is just beginning to bubble, Remove from heat and let sit uncovered.
  9. Peel and core apples. Cut into eighths and slice thinly crosswise, making small thin pieces. You should have approximately 4 cups.
  10. In a large bowl, combine apples, raisins (including the excess rum) and remaining filling ingredients. Stir until apples are coated.
  11. ASSEMBLY:
  12. Remove dough from refrigerator. Using the previous instructions, roll and fold two more times.
  13. On a floured surface, roll dough as thinly as possible. Aim for 14"x20", with the long side facing you. Don't worry if your measurements aren't exact, but do make sure there's enough flour under the dough to keep it movable.
  14. Brush the surface lightly with melted butter, using a paper towel or pastry brush.
  15. Beginning 2 inches inside the long edge facing you, distribute the bread crumbs in a thick line all the way across, leaving an inch of plain dough on each side.
  16. Pile the apple mixture evenly over the bread crumbs. (The crumbs will help soak up extra moisture.) If your apples were really juicy, you may need to use your judgment and remove a little of the juice from the bowl.
  17. With your scraper or spatula, lift the long edge to cover as much of the apples as possible. Roll the strudel, using the scraper to lift under the dough and inch it along.
  18. Pinch the ends well. Roll the strudel onto a piece of parchment paper, and use the paper to lift the strudel onto a baking sheet. Curve into a half-circle if needed to fit into the pan.
  19. Brush with melted butter and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  20. Heat oven to 400 F.
  21. Bake strudel for approximately 40 minutes, or until rich golden brown.
  22. Remove to a rack and mark the pieces with a serrated knife, just through the top. This will allow a little of the steam to escape and keep it crisp. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Flour, salt, and butter - ready to chop-chop!

Flour, salt, and butter – ready to chop-chop!

Roughly chop together. Don't blend in the butter - small chunks are what make it flaky!

Roughly chop together. Don’t blend in the butter – chunks are what make it flaky!

First fold is pretty rough. If it's pretty, you overworked it. It WILL come together!

First fold is pretty rough. If it’s pretty, you overworked it. It WILL come together!

Second fold is a little better

Second fold is a little better

After five folds and a cold nap, fold two more times and then roll it out nice and thin

After five folds and a cold nap, fold a couple more times and then roll it out nice and thin

Use a scraper or spatula to help roll the dough

Use a scraper or spatula to help roll the dough

Pinch the ends and shape it to fit the pan

Pinch the ends and shape it to fit the pan

Score the baked strudel and let it cool a bit before cutting

Score the baked strudel and let it cool a bit before cutting

Dig in!

Dig in!

Oh, man. You are going to love, love, love this! Eat it while it’s warm, or soon thereafter; it gets a little soft by the second day. Since there is sour cream in the filling, make sure any leftover strudel gets wrapped and put in the fridge.

I’ll leave you with a quote from S.J. Perelman:

“I have no truck with lettuce, cabbage, and similar chlorophyll. Any dietitian will tell you that a running foot of apple strudel contains four times the vitamins of a bushel of beans.”

I’ll buy that!

Lorinda

 

Classic Apple Strudel

Classic Apple Strudel - The Rowdy Baker

 

Are you ready to do this? There will be no frozen puff pastry for this recipe – no sir! We’re going to pull our hair back, put our big white voluminous aprons on, and do it the old-fashioned way today!

I’m warning you, though…I’m going to get pretty wordy, because I learned a lot, failed a lot, and have some ‘splainin’ to do.

The other day, my husband came into the kitchen while I was running the mixer and asked me what I was making. I looked him right in the eye but didn’t say a word. He just whispered: “noooooo”.  Poor man. Uh huh – another strudel. Obsessive, stubborn, tenacious – whatever you want to call me, I simply refuse to let a blob of dough get the best of me.

After being inspired by an apple strudel video on Facebook, I immediately began looking at recipes and videos. I had never made strudel before; in fact, I’m not sure I had even eaten a piece of strudel. But…I had to do this. I was compelled to do this…because it just looked like so much fun.

(Cue the creepy music that always starts when the girl heads down to the basement because she heard a noise, and even though everyone in the room is screaming: “Don’t do it!”, she does anyhow because she just has to.  Yeah, that.)

Seriously, I had a blast stretching the dough and fully expected the beautiful, fragrant, finished pastry to melt in my mouth, but it was…well…kind of tough on the bottom and more like a shell on the top.

I assumed a strudel would be light and flaky, like those frozen toaster strudels. Mine? Not so much.

So I tried:

  1. nuts instead of breadcrumbs when rolling it up.
  2. more butter brushed onto the dough.
  3. butter instead of oil in the dough.
  4. throwing the dough against the counter 100 times as suggested to activate the gluten strands.
  5. chilling the rolled strudel before baking.
  6. A richer dough, using milk and eggs

I tried higher temps, lower temps, letting the dough rest longer before stretching. I finally achieved a modest amount of flakiness (whew) and an enthusiastic response from my guinea pigs book club with the version I’m going to post, but I’ve come to a conclusion: the problem wasn’t with the dough, it was with my expectations. After asking around, I think I highly overestimated how light and delicate strudel should be. I mean, this dough has been mixed, pounded on the counter, and stretched within an inch of its life. It’s gotta be pretty tough to withstand that, right?

Don’t get me wrong, it really is good – very good. If you want to have the fun of stretching out this dough and making a traditional dish, and can promise me you aren’t expecting puff pastry, this recipe is for you!

(Oh, and if you have your heart set on a very light pastry, check out my companion post, Sour Cream Apple Strudel . The dough has a lot more butter in it, and is made with a “rough puff pastry” dough, similar to puff pastry but a little more restrained. You will just miss out on the dough stretching fun.)

A random hint:

You know that moment when you sniff the air and say to yourself: “what am I smelling?” and then you remember you left raisins and rum on the burner and forgot about them? NO?? Well…I do. I suggest you watch the raisins until you see the liquid begin to bubble – then remove the pan and set it aside until completely cool. Because you don’t want to see (or smell) this:

Burnt raisins and wasted rum.

Burnt raisins and wasted rum.

Since I have a nice, sturdy Bosch mixer that can really work the dough, I skipped the recommendations for hand kneading and throwing the dough onto the counter to activate the gluten strands. I figured it got enough of a workout. If you are doing this by hand though, or just want to get your aggression out by manhandling the dough, knock yourself out! It’s kind of fun.

I can’t really credit one recipe – my version is a conglomeration of many that I found. In fact, I tried so many variations that my recipe notes look like THIS!! And this is just the first page. My final conclusion was that the simpler recipes (no egg, no milk) worked better for me, and melted butter in place of the oil gave me the nicest pastry.

Clear as mud

Clear as mud

 

To make an old fashioned strudel, you’ll need a table or kitchen island that you can maneuver around (at least 2’x3′) and a large piece of clean cotton fabric. A sheet works well. You are going to be stretching a tiny ball of dough into a surprisingly large, paper-thin sheet of dough, and the best way to do this is on fabric. When you’re ready to roll it, the fabric will be your best friend. Trust me.

I also tried a different filling just for fun, combining blueberries, lemon, and apples. I’ll share that recipe at the bottom of the post if you’re interested. That’s the strudel the gals at my book club tested and liked. Here’s a mouthwatering photo of it:Blueberry Apple Strudel from The Rowdy Baker

The most important thing I learned during my immersion into all things strudel was this: don’t make a strudel when you’re in a hurry or feeling pressured. Fast, jerky movements create holes in the dough, and while a few holes aren’t a big deal (they won’t show when the strudel is rolled up) it’s better to go to your happy place and take your sweet time. The act of stretching the dough should be a pleasurable experience, not something to be rushed through.

Ready? Here we go!

Classic Apple Strudel
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This classic strudel is filled with tender apples, rum-soaked raisins, and nuts. Serves 10.
Ingredients
  • DOUGH:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • ⅔ cup room temperature water
  • oil to coat dough
  • ******
  • FILLING:
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup rum (or apple juice)
  • 5 cups of peeled, cored, and chopped Granny Smith Apples
  • 1 small lemon (juice and zest)
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • *****
  • FOR ASSEMBLY:
  • 1½ cup breadcrumbs* (See Instructions)
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped or ground walnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. DOUGH:
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, butter, and vinegar. Slowly pour in while stirring, until well mixed.
  3. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand for 8 minutes. Dough should be soft and elastic, and slightly tacky. Repeatedly throw the dough against a hard surface for a minute or so to help the gluten develop. Form into a ball, generously coat with oil, and cover with plastic. Allow dough to rest (very important) for 1 hour.
  4. Once dough has rested, combine the chopped apples with lemon in a large bowl and set aside. Cover a table with a clean cotton sheet or tablecloth, and sprinkle with flour. Rub the flour into the fabric. Place dough on cloth and form into a rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out as thinly as you can.
  5. Using your hands, begin stretching the dough. Work slowly, lifting edges and pulling. Slide your hands under the dough and coax it thinner and thinner. Two people can make this go a lot easier, with both reaching into the middle from opposite sides and easing the dough outwards. The goal is to get a paper thin dough, approximately 24"x30", but I stop when the dough seems consistently thin and small holes are beginning to develop.
  6. Trim the thick edges away with a pizza cutter or scissors, and brush the top of the dough with melted butter. The easiest way I've found is to use a paper towel to lightly spread the butter.
  7. Sprinkle with 1 cup of fine breadcrumbs and ½ cup finely chopped nuts. (Nuts are optional.)
  8. With one of the short sides facing you, pour the remaining bread crumbs from one side to the other, leaving about 2 inches of plain dough closest to you (to help begin the rolling process) and about 1 inch of plain dough on either side .
  9. Add remaining filling ingredients to the apples and spoon evenly over the breadcrumbs.
  10. Using the cloth, lift the plain dough edge over the apples and roll to the end. Roll the strudel onto a piece of parchment, and use this to lift it onto a baking sheet. You may need to give it a curved shape to fit the pan.
  11. Pinch the ends firmly and tuck under the strudel. Brush generously with butter, and put in the refrigerator to chill for 45 minutes. This will let the butter firm up, helping to create flaky layers.
  12. Heat oven to 400 F. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the pastry is a rich golden brown.
  13. Score the top where the strudel will be cut, to allow some of the steam to escape, and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Cool until just warm, and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  14. *Breadcrumbs: You can use commercial crumbs, but for more taste, crumble 2 cups of stale bread and toss with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes. Crush into fine crumbs.

The dough is so soft and stretchy after its little nap!

Dough, ready to roll and stretch!

Dough, ready to roll and stretch!

Use a rolling pin to get it as thin as you can before you start stretching. Make sure to rub flour into the cotton fabric on the table.

Roll dough out on floured fabric.

Roll dough out on floured fabric.

Start stretching. Move slowly but don’t be afraid of the dough! I like to use the palms of my hands and sort of “tickle” the dough from the center outwards. You’ll find what works for you. Two people, one on each side of the dough, can really get the job done.

Stretch it very thin!

Stretch it very thin!

Regardless of the size, I stop when I start seeing little holes. Just trim to remove thick edges and get ready to roll!

Ready to fill and roll.

Ready to fill and roll.

Butter the dough gently. A pastry brush is too rough, so I use a piece of paper towel. You can just sprinkle it on too, if you’d like. It’s not critical to cover every inch of the dough – just do the best you can.

I use a paper towel to spread the butter. You can just sprinkle it on if you prefer.

I use a paper towel to spread the butter. You can just sprinkle it on if you prefer.

Now mix together the filling. I chop or slice my apples before rolling, and toss them with the lemon to keep them from browning, but don’t add the sugar until the last minute or you’ll end up with a whole lot of juice.

Mix together the filling ingredients just before rolling.

Mix together the filling ingredients just before rolling.

The butter and the crumbs help define the layers. I tried doing without this step, and it was definitely not as flaky.

Buttered dough, sprinkled with breadcrumbs & nuts. Apple filling is arranged on bed of breadcrumbs.

Buttered dough, sprinkled with breadcrumbs & nuts. Apple filling is arranged on bed of breadcrumbs.

The cloth will help you roll the strudel. this part’s so easy; once you get it started, it just rolls itself!

Use the cloth to lift and roll the strudel.

Use the cloth to lift and roll the strudel.

Coat it with melted butter and put it back in the fridge for 45 minutes. You can skip this step, but chilling the butter between the layers really helps the texture.

Brush the strudel with melted butter

Brush the strudel with melted butter

Once baked, score through the top with a serrated blade to release extra steam. Don’t cut the strudel until it has cooled a bit. It will soften slightly, which is what you want.

Score the baked strudel and let it cool a bit before cutting

Score the baked strudel and let it cool a bit before cutting

Apple Strudel

And now, as if this post wasn’t long enough, I’ll give you instructions for making the blueberry apple filling.

For a thickening agent I used Agar (or agar-agar). If you’ve never used it before, I think you’ll be surprised by how easy and dependable it is.. It produces a slightly gelatin-like result, with no taste or funny texture. Agar is available through most health-food stores and Asian markets, or can be purchased online.

BLUEBERRY APPLE FILLING

4 cups frozen blueberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agar powder (not flakes)
2 cups finely chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts

*In a large pan over medium-low heat, stir together the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Heat, stirring often, until berries begin to release juice. Raise heat to medium and bring to a low boil. Sprinkle with agar powder and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
*Remove from heat and stir in apples.
*Once mixture has cooled, stir in the walnuts. Place in the refrigerator until thickened and use as you would apple filling.

NOTE: Don’t be alarmed if it gets very thick and gelatin-like. It will soften and melt once it’s baked in your streudel dough!

Remember that baking should be an adventure. New ideas, new techniques, and new experiences – that’s what it’s all about!
Lorinda

Tropical Strawberry Tortecake!

Tropical Strawberry Tortecake from The Rowdy Baker

 

Here is a recipe that is definitely a labor of love, an artistic adventure, and a culinary explosion of flavors and textures.

The recipe looks long because…well, because it is! Let’s go with “involved”, but not difficult. You will be making pie crust, pastry cream, thickened pineapple puree, and coconut whipped cream. You’ll also be melting chocolate, slicing and sugaring strawberries, and thickening strawberry juice for a pretty drizzle. If you choose to, you will make a few chocolate curls or toast a little coconut.

Oh, and you’ll also be washing lots of bowls, pans, and equipment.

and it is…

ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT!

Tropical Strawberry Tortecake - The Rowdy Baker

 

If you’re shaking your head, saying “Oh, hell no!”, remember this: Most of this can be made ahead so the assembly can be done quickly when you’re ready. There are also short cuts, should you choose to use them, such as vanilla pudding instead of pastry cream, crushed pineapple instead of the lovely, light puree, and whipping cream from a can for the top. You could even (this hurts to say it) use packaged pie crusts.

This took me about 2 hours, start to finish. I think I could do it more quickly now, since part of that time was spent searching for my blender and doing a little bit of cleaning up as I went.

Hope you like stirring! During the process of making this, you will need to remember to occasionally stir the strawberries, the pastry cream, and the pineapple puree.

Tropical Strawberry Torte Cake
Print
Author:
Makes four generous, luscious desserts. Six, if you make thinner layers of pie crust.
Ingredients
  • FRUIT:
  • 2 cups, packed, thinly sliced strawberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, in small chunks
  • ¾ (approximately) teaspoon agar-agar, divided (I buy this in bulk at my local health food store.)
  • ****
  • PASTRY CRUST:
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (you can use the cheap stuff! Or if you prefer, you can use white vinegar.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup shortening, very cold
  • Coarse sugar (I use sparkling sugar)
  • 1 ounce of melted dark chocolate
  • ½ teaspoon coconut oil
  • ****
  • PASTRY CREAM:
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk (you can substitute half & half if you want a richer cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ****
  • FOR DECORATING (optional)
  • Whipped coconut milk (using can of chilled coconut milk)* or lightly sweetened whipping cream
  • Chocolate curls
  • Toasted coconut
Instructions
  1. Place sliced strawberries in a small bowl and add ½ cup sugar. Stir well and set aside. (Stir now and then, when you think about it.)
  2. Heat oven to 400 F.
  3. MAKE PASTRY:
  4. In a small cup, combine the milk and vodka. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. With your fingers (or a pastry blender), blend the cold shortening into the flour mixture until well combined. Use a light hand; it's fine if there are small lumps of shortening visible.
  6. Add milk and vodka all at once. Stir gently, using fingers or fork, until you can gather it into a rough ball.
  7. Flatten dough onto a lightly floured piece of parchment. Sprinkle with flour and cover with parchment. Roll out about ¼-inch thick.
  8. Remove top sheet of parchment and lightly sprinkle with coarse sugar. Pat gently with your hand. Place the top piece of parchment back on dough and, grabbing one edge (make sure you have both pieces of parchment AND a little of the dough in your hands), flip it quickly over.
  9. Peel off top, sprinkle that side with sugar and pat. Cut with 3-inch square cookie cutter. You should easily get 12 squares, with a little dough left over. (bake and eat the scraps!)
  10. Using flat spatula, move squares to ungreased baking sheet. Prick all over with a fork and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until just beginning to get brown around the edges. Move to a cooling rack.
  11. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a small pan on low, or in the microwave. Melt it slowly, stirring often. Drizzle over cooled pastry squares. (I like to use a small zipper bag with one corner snipped off.)
  12. MAKE PASTRY CREAM:
  13. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, water, and egg yolks until frothy.
  14. In a medium pan over medium heat, bring milk almost to the boiling point. You should see bubbles all around the edges, and bubbles just beginning to come up in the middle.
  15. Pour half of the hot mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking thoroughly. Return the mixture to the pan and whisk over medium-low heat until it thickens...1 -2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Whisk well to avoid lumps. Cover lightly and whisk every 5 minutes or so until it cools completely.
  16. MAKE PINEAPPLE PUREE:
  17. Place pineapple in blender and blend until smooth. Measure out 1½ cups of puree. If you don't have quite enough, add some of the sugar-juice from the strawberries.
  18. Place puree in a small pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon agar-agar. Whisk until mixture comes to a boil. Lower heat if necessary to keep mixture at a low simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, stirring occasionally until room temperature.
  19. Add one-third of the cooled pastry cream to the pineapple mixture and stir well.
  20. Drain strawberries, reserving the liquid.
  21. Place one pastry square on each dessert plate.
  22. Place a spoonful of pastry cream on each square, spreading cream slightly.
  23. Place a spoonful of pineapple puree on the pastry cream, spreading slightly.
  24. Divide half of the strawberries between the four squares, and top with another pastry square.
  25. Repeat, ending with pastry square.
  26. In a small pan, combine ½ cup reserved strawberry juice and a pinch of agar-agar. Stir on medium high until thickened. Drizzle over desserts.
  27. Top with whipped coconut milk or whipping cream. Garnish with chocolate curl, a strawberry slice, or toasted coconut.
  28. Serve proudly!
  29. *To whip coconut milk, open chilled can of coconut milk and carefully scoop out the solid cream at the top. Discard (or use elsewhere) liquid at the bottom. Beat in a cold bowl, just as you would whipping cream. Sweeten to taste after cream forms peaks.

I took photos – lots and lots of photos, but will try to just hit the highlights. Here we go!

Stir sugar into strawberries. Set aside but stir occasionally.

Stir sugar into strawberries. Set aside but stir occasionally.

I use vodka in my pie crust. You can use vinegar if you'd prefer.

I use vodka in my pie crust. You can use vinegar if you’d prefer.

Add liquids to flour and stir gently with fingers or fork.

Add liquids to flour and stir gently with fingers or fork.

Flip the dough over, parchment and all, and pull off top piece of parchment.

Flip the dough over, parchment and all, and pull off top piece of parchment.

Sprinkle dough with coarse sugar. (I like sparkling sugar!)

Sprinkle dough with coarse sugar. (I like sparkling sugar!)

I'm generous with this stuff because I love CRUNCH!

I’m generous with this stuff because I love CRUNCH!

Cut out 12 squares

Cut out 12 squares

Place on baking sheet and prick all over with a fork

Place on baking sheet and prick all over with a fork

Bake until they just start turning golden brown at the edges. (They kinda look like saltines!)

Bake until they just start turning golden brown at the edges

Sprinkle agar-agar on pineapple puree and simmer

Sprinkle agar-agar on pineapple puree and simmer

The pastry cream - nice and thick

The pastry cream – nice and thick

Assemble! Add some pastry cream. (You can be a little more generous than this.)

Assemble! Add some pastry cream. (You can be a little more generous than this.)

Add the pineapple puree

Add the pineapple puree

Then some berries, and...repeat!

Then some berries, and…repeat!

Find a FORK!

Find a FORK!

More desserts, coming up. But first, I’d better hit that stationary bike in the back bedroom…

Lorinda

 

Maple Croissants (with a sweet, nutty filling)



Maple CroissantsFlaky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth maple croissants – it just doesn’t get any better than this, right?

Oh, but it really does get better. Add a nutty filling and a drizzle of maple icing to create a perfect combination of flavors and textures…and be prepared for the clamoring for “MORE!” that will occur.

It’s no secret that I’m a maple fiend, and I’ve posted several croissant recipes over the years, like Chocolaty Croissant Puffs, Croissants – ooh, la la!, and Pumpkin Cronuts, but I never thought to combine my two passions until my husband suggested it. I guess he’s a keeper!

I’ve got to give you my standard disclaimer when it comes to croissants: they take some time. Not a crazy amount of work, but time. The dough must be chilled and rolled out several times, and though the rolling doesn’t take more than a few minutes, you have to wait at least 30 minutes between each roll. And then the dough should sit overnight. Once you shape them, they take a while to rise. You can’t try to rush this by putting them in a warm spot, because you do NOT want the butter to melt and puddle around the rolls.

So…ideally these should be started the day before you want to bake them. Or two, since the dough just gets more flavorful as it sits in the fridge. That’s a good thing, because it breaks up the process so you can do other things. A few hours before you need the rolls, fill and shape them and leave them to rise slowly. They only take 10-12 minutes to bake.

You won’t believe the fragrance that will fill your house while these beauties are in the oven!

Layers of flakiness surround that nut filling.

Layers of flakiness surround that nut filling.

This recipe makes 32 rolls. You could always cut the recipe in half, but you’ll be sorry! Remember, the dough stays good for days in the fridge, and I’m guessing you won’t let it go to waste. But…if that’s too many for you, freeze some of the filled croissants on a cookie sheet before they’ve risen, and then put them into an airtight container for another day. When you want to use them, simply put them on a baking sheet, cover with a clean towel, and let them thaw and rise slowly (approximately 6 hours) before baking.

I know this recipe looks scary, but it’s for the dough, the filling and the icing. And I’m kinda wordy.

Maple Croissants (with a sweet, nutty filling)
Print
Author:
Makes a lot - approximately 32 croissants. The recipe can be halved, or you can save some for later by freezing shaped rolls before they rise. To use, simply place frozen rolls on a baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let them rise slowly (about 6 hours) before baking.
Ingredients
  • CROISSANT DOUGH:
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2¾ cups warm milk (about 110 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons Mapleine (maple flavoring)
  • 6½ cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt (I use Kosher)
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) cold butter, unsalted
  • egg wash (1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten well)
  • FILLING:
  • 3 cups walnuts or pecans (raw, NOT toasted)
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Mapleine
  • ICING (optional) :
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Mapleine
  • ⅛ cup water
Instructions
  1. CROISSANT DOUGH:
  2. In a large bowl (a stand mixer works best), mix the yeast and warm milk together. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Using a dough hook, mix in the Mapleine, 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, and the salt. Beat until well combined, then add the remaining flour gradually.The dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Cover with a dishtowel or plastic wrap, and let the dough rise for about an hour.
  4. Split the dough in half and on a lightly floured surface, form each half into a ball. Put each half into a heavy plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Bring one stick of butter out of the refrigerator at a time and cut lengthwise into 4 equal slices. Place them snugly together with two pieces end to end on top, and two pieces end to end directly below the first two on a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper, forming a rectangle approximately 6-1/2 inches by 3 inches. Cover with plastic wrap and roll gently to make a solid rectangle, 6-1/2 by 4 inches. (If your butter comes in the long, skinny sticks, you'll have to improvise!) Wrap and place it back in the refrigerator while you repeat the process with the other 3 sticks of butter.
  6. Remove one bag of dough and two butter rectangles from the fridge.
  7. Roll dough out on a floured surface until it is approximately 13 inches by 8 inches, with the long side facing you. You may have to do a little stretching to get a nice rectangular shape.
  8. Place one piece of butter directly in the middle of the dough, with the short side of the butter facing you. Fold the right side of the dough over the butter and press all around it gently to seal the butter in. Put the other piece of butter on top, and fold the left side over it, pinching well to seal. So...your layers at this point are: dough, butter, dough, butter, dough.
  9. The short side should be facing you, and it should be like a book - with the open edge to the right. Now roll it gently, being careful not to squeeze butter out of the dough, until it measures 12 inches by 8 inches. Fold it in thirds again, press edges gently, and put it back in the plastic bag in the refrigerator. Repeat with the other bag of dough and remaining butter.
  10. Let dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then remove dough, turn the open side to your right (like a book) and roll each one to 12 inches by 8 inches, fold into thirds, press edges gently, and return to the refrigerator for 30 more minutes.Oovernight is best.) At this point you can let the dough sit in the refrigerator for several days if you wish. The flavor just gets better.
  11. FILLING:
  12. Process nuts in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Add softened butter and brown sugar, and process briefly. Add Mapleine and process until mixture begins to stick together. Cover and set aside.
  13. FORM CROISSANTS:
  14. To form the croissants, work with one bag of dough at a time, leaving the other bag in the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll it out to about 12 inches wide and 20 inches long, trimming the edges to make them neat and tidy. Cut in half, lengthwise, using a sharp knife or (my favorite) pizza cutter. Working with one half at a time, mark the edges every 5 inches on one long side. Cut into triangles. This will give you 7 full triangles and 2 half triangles on each half of the dough. Press the small halves together for a total of 16 triangles per bag of dough
  15. I find it helps to lightly roll each triangle with a rolling pin so it is thinner and sticks to the counter a bit. It helps with the rolling process. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of filling along the wide bottom of each triangle, pressing the mixture gently onto the dough. Roll each piece up, starting at the wide end, and stretching lightly as you go. Place each croissant on the baking sheet, tip down to hold it in place, curving the ends to the middle. You can make them "hold hands" if you want. They'll come apart when they rise, but it helps them retain their crescent shape. Repeat with the other bag of dough, or save it for later.
  16. Allow the croissants to rise at room temperature. Depending on the temperature of your home, this can be anywhere from 1-1/2 hours to 3 hours. They're ready to bake when they're plump and doubled.
  17. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Brush the croissants lightly with the egg wash, and bake for approximately 12 minutes.
  18. Remove croissants from the baking sheet and allow them to cool on a rack.
  19. ICING: Combine powdered sugar, Mapleine, and water. Beat until smooth, and drizzle over cooled croissants.

The dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

The dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

Form dough into 2 balls, bag them and refrigerate.

Form dough into 2 balls, bag them and refrigerate.

Combine ground nuts, butter, brown sugar, and maple flavoring.

Combine ground nuts, butter, brown sugar, and maple flavoring.

Filling should hold together when sqeezed.

Filling should hold together when sqeezed.

Cut each stick of butter into four slices. Roll between waxed paper to proper size.

Cut each stick of butter into four slices. Roll between waxed paper to proper size.

Place one rectangle of butter in the center of rolled dough.

Place one rectangle of butter in the center of rolled dough.

Fold the right side over the butter and press to seal.

Fold the right side over the butter and press to seal.

Fold the left side over. The opening will be on the right, like a book. Press edges.

Fold the left side over. The opening will be on the right, like a book. Press edges.

Chill, roll, chill, roll, chill and then...this puffy dough gets rolled thin and cut into triangles.

Chill, roll, chill, roll, chill and then…this puffy dough gets rolled thin and cut into triangles.

Add filling to the wide end and roll 'er up!

Add filling to the wide end and roll ‘er up!

Maple croissants with a sweet nutty filling

So…I can’t promise I’m through with maple recipes, but I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t need another croissant recipe. This is my best friend forever.

I can assure you, though, that even though it looks complicated, it’s just one easy step at a time. You can do it! And because I’m not out to scare you away, my next post will be super easy – I promise!

Lorinda

Huckleberry Buttermilk Scones



Huckleberry Scones watermarked

 

Huckleberry season came early this year in Eastern Washington, taking us a little bit by surprise. We missed the best picking but still came away with a couple of gallons of these precious gems.huckleberries july 16

If you’ve ever gone huckleberry picking, you’ll understand why I’m a sort of stingy with them. The three “B”s (bending, bees, and bears) make huckleberry picking a real labor of love. I make a small batch of jam each year, then usually just throw a handful into pancakes, muffins, cakes and breads.

As much as I love huckleberry pie, it’s hard for me to part with that many berries in one fell swoop. I like pie, but seriously? I’d rather turn those berries into margaritas! Mmmm….margaritas. Ahem. ‘Scuse me…I’ll be right back.

*Hic*

With just one cup of frozen huckleberries, you can make eight large (or twelve small) light, fluffy, buttermilk scones. Add a little huckleberry icing to drizzle over the top, and you’ll have all the wonderful huckleberry flavor you could want.

Huckleberry Buttermilk Scones
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Author:
Makes 8 large or 12 regular scones. Blueberries may be substituted for huckleberries if you wish. Make sure to use frozen berries!
Ingredients
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter, increase salt to ¼ teaspoon)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • juice and zest of one small lemon (approximately 1 tablespoon juice)
  • 1 cup frozen huckleberries
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425 F.
  2. Place a piece of parchment on baking sheet. (Or lightly grease)
  3. In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Grate the cold butter using a large-holed grater, and work the butter into the dry ingredients, using a pastry blender or your fingers. Make sure there are no large lumps of butter.
  5. Toss the frozen huckleberries in the flour mixture and set aside.
  6. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, beat the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest until well combined and frothy.
  7. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients. Stir just until combined. Don't over stir.
  8. Spoon dough onto a floured surface and turn to coat. Don't knead the dough - just gather it into a ball and make sure the outside is covered with flour.
  9. *For 8 large scones: Pat into a flat circle about the size of your hand. Move to the parchment covered baking sheet. Gently flatten into a circle approximately 1-inch thick. Brush lightly with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.With a sharp, floured knife, cut into 8 wedges, lifting the knife straight up with each cut. Using a metal spatula, pull each wedge out slightly to leave a little space between each one. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. *For 12 regular scones: Divide the dough into two pieces. Gently form each half into a ball and pat into 4-inch circles. Place on parchment covered baking sheet and gently flatten into circles about ¾-inch thick. Brush lightly with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. With a sharp, floured knife, cut each circle into 6 wedges, lifting the knife straight up with each cut. Using a metal spatula, pull each wedge out slightly to leave a little space between each one. Bake for approximately 16-18 minutes, or until golden brown.
  11. Move pan to a cooling rack and allow the scones to cool on the pan.
  12. Drizzle slightly warm scones with confectioners glaze. (Or add a little huckleberry jam or lemon juice to the glaze for more flavor.)
Here's what you'll need.

Here’s what you’ll need.

Grate COLD butter.

Grate COLD butter.

Toss the berries in the flour mixture.

Toss the berries in the flour mixture.

Lightly beat the liquids.

Lightly beat the liquids.

Mix liquids and dry ingredients. Easy, Tiger. Just barely combine them.

Mix liquids and dry ingredients. Easy, Tiger. Just barely combine them.

Coat dough with flour.

Coat dough with flour.

Flatten on baking sheet. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.

Flatten on baking sheet. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.

Cut into wedges. Separate slightly. Bake!

Cut into wedges. Separate slightly. Bake!

 



scones vertical

You can leave these plain or drizzle them with confectioners icing. I added a little huckleberry jam to mine to give it even more of a burst of flavor. If you don’t have jam, try this:

Slowly bring 1/2 cup huckleberries and 2 tablespoons sugar to a boil in a small pan. Whisk in 1 teaspoon cornstarch and let the mixture simmer on low for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to cool. Combine 1 tablespoon of this sauce with 2 tablespoons milk then whisk in enough powdered sugar to make a thick glaze. Use a ziploc bag with the tip snipped off to decorate the scones.

Making a tasty icing.

Making a tasty icing.

I know what you’re going to ask. I do!  Yes, you can substitute blueberries for huckleberries. I’d recommend the frozen wild blueberries though, because they are so flavorful.

If I didn’t love huckleberries so much, I’d cave in and use blueberries – but I am willing to ignore my fear of bears (I carry bear spray), my problematic ankle (I destroyed it huckleberry picking two years ago and have to wear a brace and be very, very careful) my hatred of yellow jackets (I wear unscented everything and dress in neutral colors) and the back breaking bending and squatting that goes with the experience, because there is just nothing like a wild huckleberry!

Sounds like fun, huh? But OH so worth it.

Have a margarita scone and see for yourself!

Lorinda

 

 

Easter Recipe Collection

For several years I created recipes for my Food for Thought column in Yummy Northwest, and loved every minute of it. The website is in the middle of a transformation, so all of my past columns are archived for now, but you can still read them at any time. This Easter I’m posting photos of my Yummy Northwest favorites, with links to the recipes.

Easter hot cross buns watermark YNW
Easter Kulich Watermark YNW
Hot Cross Buns and Kulich were two recipes I created for an old-time Easter theme. This link will take you to both recipes:Old Time Easter Treats
easter egg clip art cropped


Easter bunnies watermark YNW



Easter Birds watermark YNW

easter lambs Watermark YNW

Easter sugar eggs watermark YNWLittle bread bunnies, birds, and lambs are fun to make, and kid-approved. Using the link below, you’ll find instructions for making bread critters and sugar eggs. Let your creativity loose on this project! I have a Rowdy blog about them, but there’s good info in this column too.
Bread Animals and Sugar Eggs

Who says you shouldn’t play with your food? Use your imagination and enjoy!

Lorinda

Petits Fours



petits foursHooo boy. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I am just now getting this post up. Of course you can run to the store right now, cussing me out under your breath, or you can just adapt the recipe for St. Patrick’s Day or Easter. Or…you can take a shortcut or two, using a store-bought pound cake and even (I can’t believe I’m saying this) canned frosting for the filling. In a pinch you can skip the filling entirely; just cut the cake into cubes or hearts, dip in fondant icing, and decorate!

Yep…Sara Lee works just fine, but there are more crumbs and more waste.sara lee

Note: if you cut shapes for your petits fours, they will be a little harder to coat smoothly; baking the cakes in heart shaped pans keeps them from getting crumbly around the sides. Either way, the freezer is your friend! Freeze the little cakes before you slice and fill them, and then freeze them again before dipping.

I tried three icings for the coating: white ganache, melted white chocolate, and a poured fondant enhanced with white chocolate. Each had pros and cons, and what you choose will depend on your expectations. I wanted a thin, white icing with a little “snap” to it. I like it when the coating pops a little when I bite into a petits four. Here’s how the three options rated:

The white ganache looked lovely, but it didn’t have the “snap” I was looking for. I used Wilton’s bright white candy melts for this, and wasn’t too crazy about the taste, but the pastries looked very pretty. If you aren’t after a firm shell-like coating, this would be a good option.

Pretty and white, with fairly good coverage, but not firm enough for me.

Pretty and white, with fairly good coverage, but not firm enough for me.

For the melted white chocolate, I used Ghiradelli melts. They taste so much better than candy melts, and I really wanted this to work for me. I added a little coconut oil to thin the chocolate for dipping, and it went beautifully. There definitely was a satisfying “snap” when I tried one (or two). But…the color is more ivory than white, and it just didn’t look as pretty.

Nice and smooth, but ivory colored.

Nice and smooth, but ivory colored.

The third time’s the charm, right? The poured fondant was just what I wanted. It wasn’t quite as firm as the melted chocolate, but it was very pretty, tasted good, and covered well. ***DING DING DING*** – we have a winner!



Mmmmm. Just right!

Mmmmm. Just right!

The hardest part of this post is determining how much coating you might need. There are so many factors! The size of your pans determines how many pastries you will have to fill and coat. If you choose to buy a pound cake and cut it into shapes rather than baking your own, you will probably have a lot fewer petits fours to work with. I did my best, but you may have to adjust a bit, so it might be prudent to buy enough ingredients for a second batch if necessary. If you don’t need it, well…you can never have too much powdered sugar or white chocolate in your pantry, right?

heart panI used small silicone heart-shaped pans with 24 cavities in each. Filled approximately 2/3 full, my cake recipe made about 72 hearts. Traditional petits fours are approximately 1-inch cubes, so if you want the finished hearts as tall as they are wide, you may choose to a) use more filling, b) use two hearts for thicker layers, cutting off the domed top of each, or c) cut thin slices and make three layers.

WHATEVER YOU DO, FREEZE THE CAKES BEFORE SLICING. It will make things go much more smoothly.

Here’s the recipe I used, but any pound cake or sturdy, dense cake will work well.

Strawberry Cake Mini-Hearts
Print
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon strawberry flavoring and a few drops of red food coloring.
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Lightly spray silicone mini-heart pans with a non-stick spray. (I prefer a flour/oil mix like Baker's Joy.)
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter well until light and creamy - at least 2 minutes.
  4. Add sugar gradually and continue beating for 2 minutes.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating very well and scraping the sides of the bowl between each egg.
  6. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
  7. Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk alternately, one-third of each at a time, beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the buttermilk. Scrape the bowl well with a rubber spatula as you go.
  8. Stir in the flavoring and food coloring until combined.
  9. Fill the cavities of your pans ⅔ full. Lift and drop the pans a few times to settle the batter, or smooth lightly with a knife.
  10. Place the silicone pans on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. If a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of a cake, and the top has begun to brown slightly, the cakes are done. Place pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out.

 

For the filling, I used a couple of cups of fairly stiff buttercream icing, with a heaping tablespoon of strawberry preserves stirred in.

Slice the frozen hearts (cutting off the domed tops so they are level), generously add filling, and press the two layers together firmly. Use a knife to clean off any filling that’s pressed out, spreading it in a thin layer around the heart if you like; it will act as a crumb coat. For a clean line, it’s important not to have filling bulging out the sides, or gaps where there wasn’t enough filling.

Spread with a generous amount of filling.

Spread with a generous amount of filling.

adding filling

Smooth for a clean edge.

 

After filling the hearts, place them back in the freezer while you make the coating.

For the GANACHE COATING: melt 1 package (12 ounces) of Wilton Bright White candy melts in the microwave. Begin with 30 seconds, stir, and then heat at 15 second intervals, stirring each time, just until melted. A few small lumps are fine – they’ll continue to melt in the bowl. In a small pan over medium heat, bring 1/2 cup of heavy cream almost to a boil, stopping when you see bubbles around the edge of the pan. Pour slowly over the chocolate, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Stop when the texture seems right for dipping. (You may not need the whole 1/2 cup.)

For the MELTED CHOCOLATE COATING: melt 1 package (12 ounces) of Ghiradelli White Melting Wafers in the microwave. Begin with 30 seconds, stir, and then heat at 15 second intervals until most of the wafers are melted and just small lumps remain. Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or shortening) and stir slowly until the chocolate is completely smooth. If necessary, put the bowl back in the microwave for a few seconds.

For the POURED CHOCOLATE FONDANT: place 1 pound powdered sugar, 1/4 cup light corn syrup, and 1/3 cup water in a medium pan over medium-low heat. Stir well until mixture is very warm but not bubbling. Remove from heat. (You could use it at this stage, as a poured fondant icing…but I wanted it whiter.) Add 1 package (12 ounces) of Wilton Bright White candy melts and stir until melted. This should be just right for dipping, but if it is too thick, add a little hot water and stir well.

I had better luck dipping my hearts than pouring the icing over them. Still, you’ll want to use a baking sheet with a cooling rack (sprayed lightly with non-stick spray) over it to keep the coating from puddling up around each pastry.

Dip, shake, turn over and slide onto rack. Repeat.

Dip, shake, turn over and slide onto rack. Repeat.

Poke a toothpick in one frozen heart and dunk it in the coating. Don’t try to completely cover the area around the toothpick; this will be the bottom of the petits four!  Gently shake off excess, turn the heart over so you’re holding the toothpick like a flower stem, and use a fork to lift the heart off the toothpick and deposit it on the cooling rack to dry. Repeat many, many times.

If you have trouble removing the petits fours from the cooling rack, slide a thin metal spatula under each one. No one will look at the bottom! Also, if you set the finished petits fours on a little bed of sprinkles before you plate them or put them in paper cups, the sprinkles will stick to the bottom for a pretty effect and fun texture.

Decorate with conversation hearts, sprinkles, buttercream flowers, or chocolate designs. Store the petits fours in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Valentine Treat Collection



vday collageI thought that while you were waiting anxiously for me to produce my promised Valentine’s Day Petits Fours, I’d pacify you with a collection of past V-Day treats. While you’re making all of these, I promise I’ll be working on a new post for you.
rowdy logo from brenna valentines
Try these delicious deep chocolate cookies! Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies have a little kick of espresso and are filled with chocolate covered raisins.
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rowdy logo from brenna valentines

For a delicious homemade version of Mallomars, put your apron on and make a batch of Vallomar Cookies. They’re a little time-consuming, but soooooo good.

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rowdy logo from brenna valentines

Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this month, so you’ll have time to surprise your sweetie with these filled doughnuts. Sugared, glazed, plain…there’s nothing like a fresh doughnut! Jelly Doughnut Hearts
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rowdy logo from brenna valentines

Cinnamon Spiral Bread is great when toasted, used for special sandwiches, or made into french toast. Bake it in a heart shaped canape pan and slice into thin hearts.
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rowdy logo from brenna valentines

Light and fluffy, these dainty angel food cakes will just disappear in your mouth! Chocolate Cherry Angel Cakesvdayroundup5

rowdy logo from brenna valentines

As if shortbread cookies aren’t rich enough, I added a chocolate ganache filling and topped them with raspberry jam. You’ve got to try these! Chocolate Raspberry Shortbreadvdayroundup6