We’ve had two weeks of amazing weather here in Seattle – cool, sunny and crisp. And no rain for *14* days! (apparently, this is a Thing). This was all very wonderful, and I’m pleased to say that I made good use of the weather – I marveled at the color of the trees, went running outside, and wore short-sleeved shirts (underneath my jacket and scarf, of course – it’s was nice out, but we’re not in the tropics or anything).
But, as all such things come to an end, we’re now we’re back to foggy, chilly, and damp. This obviously makes me want to hunker down at home and bake (which, let’s be real, I’m fairly interested in doing even on sunny and warm days).
All of this nesting also gives me the opportunity to fill my freezer with baked gifts that I can ferret away until they are needed. Most commonly, it’s either for a hostess gift, or more realistically, a social bribe for a meeting a work. Either way, a treat that is quick, simple and homemade is the way to go!
I’ve made exactly 5 loves of this Cranberry Walnut Bread in the past two weeks. There were many reasons – it’s quick to bake, so super tasty, and also because I bought about 47 lbs. of cranberries at Costco last week and wanted to use them up (there are worse problems though!). The bread is packed with tart cranberries and crunchy walnuts, it’s fairly low in sugar but very high in deliciousness. It’s more of a delightful breakfast bread than “I’m pretending it’s healthy but I’m really eating cake for breakfast” sort of carb.
Say this bread’s name five times…go! Yeah, it’s a lot of “B” but let’s add a few more like bursting with buttery flavor inside and a slightly crunchy brown sugar bottom! This banana bread is not like any banana bread you’ve ever eaten. It’s super moist and makes the house smell delightful! This recipe comes from Food52 with a few modifications of course.
Strudel and I are bringing you bread this month! Not just any kind of bread though. The bread that you want to share with friends as holiday gifts or the bread you display when inviting friends over for coffee. We’re showcasing the kind of breads this month that will put you in the entertaining holiday mood fast.
I try to incorporate as many Sunday vibes in to my Saturdays as possible. I want the cozy, lazy, laid-back feeling of a Sunday, but want to capture it as early as possible in the weekend so that I have as much time as possible to enjoy it.
Of course, I live in the real world, so weekends aren’t just for being cozy; they’re also for paying bills, going to the grocery store, and pretending like I’m going to clean my house. But I try my hardest to be as hygge AF in the moments I can work it in, and baking fall treats – when I can be in a routine of chopping, mixing, sipping coffee from my local coffee shop and listening to NPR – totally fits the bill. Plus, it makes the house smell absolutely amazing.
Enter these Apple Almond Scones. Yesterday I quickly put them together, and while they baked, I made some speedy scrambled eggs to go on the side (obviously – eggs were on the side of scones, not the other way around. You know how we feel about gluten around here!). The scones were fragrant and tender, a mildly sweet and a little nutty. A lovely way to start off a fake Sunday (e.g. a Saturday).
Full of pumpkin flavor. Super tender and buttery. Topped with a sweet crunchy streusel.
This recipe truly was an experiment that on the first try completely worked! I looked around for recipes and none really suited me so I just started throwing the ingredients together.
People have asked me how I bake without a recipe. I guess it just comes down to years of using recipes and studying how each ingredient contributes to a recipe. You can do it too.
You know every muffin has some kind of butter or oil, right? Every muffin has some kind of sweetener. Leavener. Flour. You get the idea. Whether it’s a muffin, cake or cookie, it starts with the fat. Then comes the sugar. Then comes a mix of flour, salt and leavener such as baking powder. Don’t forget the added moisture and leavening that comes from an egg or two. Throw in some flavor with vanilla. Voila!
Aaaah…October! The nights are getting cold, the leaves are changing, and this week here in Denver, we had our first snow fall. Boooo (and not the spooky ghost kind). I love fall but I don’t like that it signifies cold weather is around the corner (or already here, apparently). I don’t care for snow or cold. Let’s not worry about that right now and just relish in a month of fall recipes. How about some pumpkin mixed into cheesecake?
These cheesecake bars are a perfect combination of a layer of graham cracker crust, a layer of cheesecake, a layer of pumpkin cheesecake and the best layer on top… streusel!
Today was spent accepting the inevitable – fall has fallen. It was a beautifully sunny (if slightly cool) day here in Seattle, so Brandon and I decided to make the most of it and spend the day in the yard. We pulled tomato plants, raked leaves, and stored the deck furniture. It seems like it was about 12 minutes ago that giddily pulled all of this stuff out. I’m admittedly a little melancholy about the end of summer.
Even as I’m not super enthused about the shorter, chillier days, I *am* excited about all the squash, apples, and cinnamon-flavors foods I get to bake and snack on. At the farmer’s market this past weekend, I picked up the a 1/2 dozen of the best honeycrisp apples I’ve ever eating (which is saying something, since I live in an apple-producing, apple-proud state). I’d write them in to a recipe, but I’d prefer just to put them directly in to my face.
I did get a head start on some fall baking this morning, when I made this yeasted Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread. It’s like an autumnal version of Cinnamon Raisin Bread – the bread has a slightly sweet, mildly earthy taste of spiced pumpkin, and the swirl is a sweet-spicy punch of cinnamon. It’s delicious straight of of the oven (of course), is dreamy when it’s been toasted with butter (crispy, chewy and tender), and though this hasn’t happened in my house yet, this bread would be *amazing* for French toast.
As we wind up our month of defining, testing and tasting our fruit desserts – which Streusel kindly laid out the differences in her last post – I thought I’d go vintage for my final recipe on this topic and make a fall-friendly Apple Betty.
“What’s a Betty?” You (and I) ask. Also, we’re probably filled with curiosity about whether or not we should make it. Happily, after some experimenting this month, I can provide answers to both questions!
Firstly – a Betty is a fruit dessert layered between bread crumbs or bread cubes, with plenty of butter to make the layers crisp and delicious. It falls more in line with a fruit crisp, but without the oat topping (and with the bread crumbs serving that purpose instead).
Is it worth our baking time and energy? Yes! It absolutely is. You can ask my husband, who piled on some ice cream and then gobbled 3/4 of it about 12 seconds after it came out of the oven.
The pears are ripe and I decided to take a break from all of the peaches and demonstrate a cobbler with some fresh Colorado pears!
Let’s recap what we’ve learned so far this month…
Crisp – Fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of sugar and flour and butter and OATS – hence the crisp!
Crumble – Fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of sugar and flour and butter, no oats
Buckle – Typically berries blended into a coffee cake where the batter sinks and the streusel topping and fruit buckle.
Now to the Cobbler, similar to a crisp or crumble but now the topping is a dough. It’s not a full cake like the buckle with eggs and all. This dough is more of a sweet biscuit dough, no eggs, but we do have leavening in the form of baking powder and we have liquid added in! This dough is then cobbled on top of the fruit and baked to a golden brown.
This week I tried my hand at a baking Berry Buckle. In our ongoing quest to define various summertime desserts, a buckle was next on my list.
“What makes a buckle a buckle?” You may ask (or at least, I did!). In my internet perusing, I learned that a buckle is more cake-like, though it’s a cake baked with fresh fruit (just to be clear, just because it’s fruit + cake, it does not make it a fruitcake). The cake is supposed to “buckle” around the large amount of fruit in the cake.
And you know what else?! It has a streusel topping. If that’s not a perfect cake to try in these diminishing days of summer, I don’t know what is!
Well, it’s a little confusing because some would say a crisp has oats and a crumble doesn’t BUT then I easily found recipes where crumbles had oats?! Strudel’s crisp last week definitely had oats! The Kitchn tells me…
Crisps have oats. Crumbles – no oats!
Oats or no oats, this dessert seems to have started during WWII when rationing of flour, fat and sugar turned the pie into this more economical and easy to make dessert! Adding oats into a crisp was a way to use even less flour.