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I was looking for the umpteenth apple cake recipe and, instead of googling it, I decided to download some baking apps on my iphone. I had read about Nigella Lawson before but I had never tried her recipes…When I saw the app ‘Nigellissima’, it grabbed my attention for few reasons: it was free, graphics were well-finished and I was curious to taste her cooking.
As you can see from the pic, this is more a cake rather than a pie…but -beside this- it has three big pluses: it has a nice consistency and taste, it looks really nice and it takes no more than 15 minutes to make!
ApplePie
Ingredients

– 3 or 4 apples
– 2 1/2 cups/250gr all purpose flour
– 7 tbsp/100gr butter, room temperature
– 3/4 cup/150gr granulated sugar
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 cup/125ml milk
– 1 lemon grated zest
– 2tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– salt
For the top
– 1 tbs brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200° C/ 400° F. Grease and flour one 9-by-2-inch (23cm diameter) cake pan, tapping out excess flour. If you prefer line it with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle put the flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, soft butter, granulated sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix till it forms a thick batter. With you food processor still running, add milk to lighten the mixture.
  3. Peel and core the apples. Slice three of them and cut the remaining in small chunks. Put chuncks into the pastry and then pour the mixture into the baking tin.
  4. On the top of it, place the sliced apples as in a radial. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let the cake cool before slicing.
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Prior Event: My bf is learning Italian and sometimes, while we’re talking in English, he mixes some Italian words.

A couple of days ago I was wondering what to bake and he asked me to make some biscotti. I said ‘Yeah, well…what kind of biscotti do you want? Chocolate chip cookies? Peanut butter or anything else?’. He looked at me a bit confused: ‘I didn’t say cookies, but biscotti’. Now…for almost 30 years of my life I was convinced that biscotti was an Italian word (plural btw, as singular form is biscotto), which we Italians used to identify all kind of cookies. But couple of days ago I discovered I was wrong. With my big surprise, I got to know Biscottis are a specific kind of firm, not as sweet cookies, usually baked twice. Or at least that’s the way it is for all the Americans. Wonderful! I had immediately to try baking them 🙂 They turned out really good: crunchy, nutty and dense…sooo yummy. It has to be said: you never stop learning!

Biscottis

Ingredients

– 1 1/4 cups/120gr all-purpose flour

– 1 1/4 cups/120gr  yellow cornmeal

– 1/2 teaspoon/2gr baking powder

– 1/2 teaspoon/5gr coarse salt

– 6 tablespoons/90gr unsalted butter, room temperature

– 1 cup/200gr sugar

– 2 large eggs

– 1/2 cup/100gr dried cranberries

– 3/4 cup/100gr chopped pistachios

– 1/2 cup/80gr chopped white chocolate

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Put butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and mix until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time, until well combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture all at once; mix until just combined. Add cranberries, chocolate and pistachios and mix until combined.
  3. Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pat into a log that is roughly 14 by 3 1/2 inches. Bake until firm, lightly browned, and slightly cracked on top, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack, about 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer log to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake cookies, rotating sheet halfway through, until they begin to brown at edges, 15 to 18 minutes.

This recipe has been adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti.

2013 started with few good news and one of them concerns my passion for baking. At the end of January one of my parents friends opened a regional restaurant few kilometers far from the city where I live. Here in Italy we call this kind of restaurants with local cuisine ‘Osterie’. The menu includes several Venetian dishes and the atmosphere is very homely. Everything has the taste of home-made food, so do the cakes! He asked me to bake 3 or 4 cakes a week, choosing between some classics (apple/pear/chocolate cakes) and some different ones.I made this Chocolate Victoria Sponge with Peach Jam beacuse I already baked my Sacher Torte last week and he wanted a lighter version to serve with whipped cream. Hope clients enjoyed it 🙂

2

Ingredients

– 6 oz/175g unsalted butter

– 6 oz/175g caster sugar

– 3 eggs large beaten

– 5 oz/150g self raising flour

– 1 oz/25g cocoa powder

– 1+1/2 cup of home-made peach jam

– Chocolate flakes to decorate

Directions

1. Turn oven to 350°F/180°C. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle until it is light in colour, then mix in the eggs a little at a time.

2. Sift flour and cocoa powder into the bowl with the butter and sugar and fold it in. If the mixture is slightly heavy add some water.

3. Now divide the mixture between two 8-by-2-inch (20cm diameter) tins. Level with a knife and put both tins in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes. Cakes are ready when the sponge slightly pulls away from tin’s sides.

4. Cool on a wire rack right side up. Once they are completely cooled down, spread the jam on top of first half, setting asaid 2-3 tbsp. If your jam is really thick, you may need to warm it for a while in a pan or using the microwave. It will melt and will be easier to use.

5. Top with the other half and spread the remaining 2-3 tbsp of jam, then sprinkle with chocolate flakes (they will stick to the cake thanks to jam’s layer!).

This recipe is an adaptation of Chocolate Victoria Sponge by Maria Dernikos

For those who don’t know, chupito is a Spanish word and basically means shot. I’m not big into spirits, as I rather prefer to drink wine (my family owns wineyards, so it couldn’t be any different!) or some home made beer. That said, there’s only one chupito that I really like and it’s called ‘Rum&Pear’: first you shot a glass of rum and straight after a shot of pear juice. The match between the two flavors is really good, so I thought it would have been a good combination in a cake! If you want a stronger rum taste, instead of adding 3 tablespoons of rum, put pear chunks in a pan and add half cup of rum. Make them simmer till the alchol will be absorbed by pears.

1

Ingredients

– 2 lb/1kg pears (I used Williams)

– 1+1/3 cups/ 170g all-purpose flour

– 1/2 + 2 tbsp/120g white sugar

– 1 stick butter/120g, room temperature

– 6 eggs, separated

– 1/2 tbsp/8g baking powder

– 1/2 organic lemon (juice+zest)

– 3 tbsp rum

– sugar powder

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F/ 180°C. Grease and flour one 8-by-2-inch (20cm diameter) cake pan, tapping out excess flour. If you prefer line it with parchment paper.

2. Peel, core and cut 3/4 of the pears into chunks. Cut the rest into thin slices you will use on top of the cake to decorate. Spread lemon juice all over and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest and butter until fluffy and light colored. Add flour and baking powder, then mix till well combined. Toss pear chunks into the mixture, add rum and mix again.

4. Using the electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat egg whites on medium-high until glossy stiff peaks form (do not overbeat!), about 3 minutes.

5. Add the egg whites to the batter, folding them gently.

6. Spoon the mixture in the pan and decorate the top by placing pear slices all over.

7. Bake it for 1 hour and once it is done, let cool completely in pan. Sprinkle with some sugar powder before serving.

Lately I’m baking like crazy. I made these Chocolate Crackle Cookies to celebrate one of my mom friend’s birthday. She wanted to make her a surprise and she asked me to bake something ‘good, different and easy to eat’. Now, I had no worries concerning the goodness (if there’s chocolate, everything will taste great for sure!). As for ‘different’, well…I had to interpret she was referring to something I never baked before. And concerning something easy to eat, I knew she was thinking about cupcakes or cookies, rather than a swiss-meringue cake (Thank God!lol). These cookies are soft and chewy inside but the addition of sugar gives the external part a crunchy texture. Beside the fact they are really addictive (try to eat the first and then you’ll understand), they are also easy on the eyes! Trying is believing 😉

Image

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups light-brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Chop bittersweet chocolate into small bits, and melt over medium heat in a heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and light-brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add melted chocolate. With mixer on low speed, alternate adding dry ingredients and milk until just combined. Divide the dough into quarters, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours.
  3. On a clean countertop, roll each portion of dough into a log approximately 16 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, using confectioners’ sugar to prevent sticking. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and transfer to a baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes. Cut each log into 1-inch pieces, and toss in confectioners’ sugar, a few at a time. Using your hands, roll the pieces into a ball shape. If any of the cocoa-colored dough is visible, roll dough in confectioners’ sugar again to coat completely. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake until cookies have flattened and the sugar splits, 12 to15 minutes.
  4. Transfer from oven to a wire rack to let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Till yeasterday I didn’t know nothing about Kolaches. Then, talking about Texas food with my bf, they popped up. Think of a mix between a pig-in-a-blanket and a hotdog, made out of a soft and semi-sweet dough…your almost there…but to clearly understand what I’m talking about you should just have one for breakfast. O-o-o-ok…back up…Breakfast?! Yup, you read it right. In Texas this is something you usually eat in the morning and, for sure, it will give you all the energy you need…till dinner 😉

I’m very experimentative but I’m still too attached to my sweet breakfast habits: fruit, yogurt, coffee, cookies…So I had them as a dinner, but tomorrow morning there will be somebody who will start his day with one (or two) of these Sausage and Cheese Kolaches…feeling a bit less homesick 🙂

ImageImage
Ingredients
For the Yeast Starter
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons yeast
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm water (approx. 110°)
  • 1 cup warm milk (approx. 110°)

The Dough

  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ butter softened
  • ¼ vegetable oil
  • ¼ warm milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups of flour
The Filling
  • 20 little smoked sausages
  • American Cheese (optional)
  • Sliced Jalapeños (optional)
Directions
1. Mix the yeast, flour and sugar thoroughly in a very large bowl.  Add warm milk and water and blend until it is all incorporated in a sticky ubber-wet dough. Cover and let rise for an hour and a half.
2. Uncover and add all of the ingredients under the dough heading. Using the dough hook on you mixer blend until the dough becomes a solid ball in the center of the bowl (approx. 7-9 minutes). Cover and allow to rise for another hour or two (more time means softer buns).
3. While the dough is rising prepare your sausages.  Remove them from the packaging and remove any excess liquid.  Cut the American cheese slices so you can wrap each sausage completely with the cheese.
4. After the dough has risen prepare a plate of flour to keep your hands thoroughly floured while you form the little balls of happiness.  Also grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
5. With your hands thoroughly floured break the roll the dough into golf ball sized balls. Once the ball is ready press the cheese wrapped sausage in the middle and begin to pull the dough over the sausage.  Roll it in your hands until the dough completely covers the sausage and cheese.  Once the sausage is completely encapsulated place the little dough ball on the cookie sheet.
6. Once all of the kolaches are formed and on the cookie sheets and using a pastry brush (or your fingers) cover the tops of the dough balls with the egg wash. Allow the kolaches to rise for another 30 minutes to an hour on the cookie sheet.
7. Pre-heat the oven to 400°. Then slip them into the oven and bake them for 15 or until the tops are golden brown.
8.  When they are golden brown, immediatly take them off of the cookie sheet and cool them on a wire rack.
This amazing recipe comes from http://theinternationaltexican.blogspot.it .

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