Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Dorie – Crumb-Topped Ricotta Coffee Cake

I will admit I’m not a big fan of coffee cakes. They look so good, but I usually find them unspectacular when I take a bite. As Prue from The Great British Baking Show says, it needs to be worth the calories. Here at last, a coffee cake worth the calories.

First up: the crumb topping. It needs to chill so plan accordingly. Flour, cornmeal, sugar, brown sugar and salt go into the stand mixer for a whir, then chunks of butter are added. Mix until you have crumbs that hold together when pressed. Then in goes a little vanilla and it’s off to the fridge.

I needed ricotta and berries from the store, but first I measured out the ingredients I would need for the base of the cake: flour, baking powder, and soda in one bowl and sugar and salt in another. Eggs were on standby at room temperature and melted butter was cooling. Off I went to the store and after unpacking the groceries, etc., two hours had gone by, enough chill time for the crumbs. It would be so easy, I thought, everything is measured out, just need to throw it together.

I whisked the flour mixture, whisked the eggs one at a time into the sugar then added the melted butter and added the sugar mixture to the flour. I spread the mixture into the pan and then whoops! I realized I needed a 9 inch pan, not an 8. Okay easy enough, I got the mixture into the right pan. I checked the instructions at this point and realized that I had not added ricotta. You know, the ricotta in the title of the recipe? Nothing to do but put the mixture back in the bowl, add ricotta and move forward.

Now with all the ingredients on board, I spread the mixture into the correct pan, plopped on the blackberries (lovely berries from a berry farm north of Seattle) and finally the topping. It was ready to come out of the oven after 55 minutes.

After a three minute rest, a knife arrives und the edge, then another rest for ten minutes. Then invert out of the pan then onto a cooling rack right side up until just warm. I was worried the crumbs would fall off when the pan was inverted, but they remained intact. The cake slices neatly into squares.

So, here’s a lovely, delicious coffee cake that can handle a few mishaps along the way. We enjoyed it in the afternoon with tea and again with coffee the next morning. I’m a coffee cake convert!

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Dorie – S’Mores Ice Cream Cake

I took one look at the ingredients for this cake and thought, thank goodness I have family coming for a visit in July! This is a cake to be shared and enjoyed. It’s a showstopper in looks and taste. When you make it, plan ahead: it is simple, but you need a block of time to prepare it and at least six hours in the freezer before it is ready to serve.

I got started with the crust, a twist on the standard graham cracker crust. First I made the crumbs in my food processor.

Turn out into a bowl then butter, salt and sugar and the magic ingredient, finely chopped peanuts.

Press into a buttered springform pan, then pop it in the freezer. Then into the oven for seven to nine minutes, until golden.

Meanwhile, I made the hot fudge sauce and the peanut fluff. Dorie calls for semisweet or bittersweet chocolate and specifies that it should not be chocolate chips. I typically keep good quality chocolate chips on hand and rely on them to fill my baking needs. When I was shopping for the ingredients for this cake, I recalled seeing a block of bittersweet chocolate in my pantry, so didn’t buy any. I got home and weighed the chocolate: five ounces, seven shy of the twelve in the recipe. Digging around, I found bittersweet disks, which got me to ten ounces. So two ounces of chips went in. The three types of chocolate got chopped finely, then went into a medium pot over medium low heat with heavy cream, light corn syrup, and sugar. I cooked and stirred until I saw the tiny bubbles the recipe calls for (it took longer than five minutes to get to this point) then cooked for a little bit longer. Then into a bowl to cool.

Peanut butter fluff has three ingredients, chunky peanut butter (my favorite!), marshmallow creme (I think the last time I bought this to bake with was high school) and warm milk. I used my stand mixer to mix the peanut butter and marshmallow creme, then slowly added the warm milk.

Now the fun begins, building the layers. In my search for a pint of premium ice cream, I stumbled on a local brand that had the three flavors I wanted: espresso, chocolate and vanilla.

Bottom layer was espresso. I used the microwave to soften the ice cream. My technique improved as I learned what worked best. Melt enough to soften then stir. Spreads nicely without getting too runny.

Each layer goes in the freezer for about an hour to firm up. Ice cream, fudge sauce, ice cream, peanut butter fluff, ice cream, fudge sauce. After the final layer, the cake needs at least six hours in the freezer.

Serving time! I heated the top with a hair dryer so the mini marshmallows that go on top could stick (Dorie’s trick.) The mini marshmallows go on, then under the broiler, carefully watched. I turned it once to get an even toasting.

After removing the sides of the pan I popped it back in the freezer for a few minutes. Next time, I’ll skip that step. The cake was very hard to cut into for the first two slices. Three of us tried until my husband got one piece out. Tip: cut a big slice for the first one. It’s easier to get out.

Now the reviews: outstanding! We all had our favorite layer, but they all combined to make a decadent and delicious cake. Perfect for a special occasion or just a celebration of family being together. Definitely worth the effort.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Dorie – Mochaccino Muffins

Lots of chocolate and coffee in these muffins: cocoa, chocolate chips, ground coffee and coffee extract combine to make tasty treats. Heads up: the eggs and milk must come to room temp before you get started, so plan ahead.

The flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt get sifted together, then the ground coffee and sugar join the mix.

Cooled, melted butter is whisked with milk, eggs and coffee extract (the recipe for the extract is in the cookbook.) The liquid ingredients are then mixed into the dry with a rubber spatula until almost all the flour is blended in.

Then in go the mini chocolate chips (I chopped regular chips a little finer since I had them on hand.)

The muffin tins are quite full after the batter is added and the muffins puff up nicely while they bake.

We had an afternoon treat the day I made these and the rest went in the freezer for another day.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Dorie – Asparagus-Lemon Quiche

I made this quiche for Easter so I had a jump on this month’s baking. Unfortunately, that means I don’t have any photos of the steps involved in the making of the quiche.

The quiche was delicious, but next time I will remove the pith from the slivered lemon slice. Every time we bit into a piece of pith, it overpowered the delicate flavor of the other ingredients. The combination of cream and sour cream for the filling was unusual and very tasty.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Dorie – Swirled, Spiced Sour Cream Bundt Cake

This delicious cake was fun to make and a great excuse to use the beautiful pan my husband gave me for Christmas last December. Plan ahead note: the butter, eggs and sour cream need to be set out on the counter in advance and come to room temperature.

I started off by mixing together the ingredients that make up the lovely swirl: sugar, mini chocolate chips (I chopped up regular-sized chips I had on hand), chopped nuts (I chose pecan – my favorite!), cocoa powder, cinnamon and allspice.

Then the dry ingredients are whisked together: all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, allspice (I was 1/4 teaspoon short so I substituted 1/4 teaspoon cloves), baking powder and baking soda.

Butter, sugar, brown sugar and salt get mixed until well blended. Eggs are added one at a time. Then vanilla joins the mix, followed by sour cream. The dry mixture is added in two additions.

I smoothed in enough batter to just cover the bottom of my Bundt pan, which I had sprayed with baker’s spray. The recipe instructs to add just over half the swirl mixture, smooth half the remaining batter over it, followed by the remaining swirl mixture. When it was time to spoon on the final amount of swirl mixture, I judged there was too much, and left out about a half a cup (I’m sure I’ll find a use for it!) Finally, the remaining batter gets smoothed on top.

I ended up baking the cake for the full amount of time: 72 minutes. After resting in the pan for 10 minutes, the cake popped out cleanly, nothing left behind, thanks to my quality pan! A drizzling of icing after coming to room temperature and it is ready for eating.

The whole family, my husband, my mom, my son (who was visiting) and I loved this cake. The flavors, which my son said reminded him of pumpkin bread, improved over the next couple of days. I will definitely bake this again!

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Dorie – Steph’s Bakewell Tart

The Bakewell Tart, a British classic that I had never heard of until watching an episode of The Great British Baking Show. How exciting that Dorie has a version in Baking with Dorie. Unlike the contestants on the show, who had to make the tart with minimal instructions, we have Dorie’s detailed instructions to help us through.

The tart dough that forms the base for this tart is the All-Purpose Tart Dough or pâte brisée. It is an all butter dough that is surprisingly easy to work with. I started the day by weighing my butter, cutting it into small pieces and popping the bits in the freezer for about an hour. I stumbled on this idea a few months ago when my butter softened up a bit too much while I was cutting it up for pie dough. I put it in the freezer and it came out nice and cold. The resulting pie dough was one of the best I’ve ever made. I’ve been cutting and freezing my butter for doughs ever since!

To make the dough, all purpose flour, sugar and salt get pulsed briefly in your food processor. In goes the now very cold butter, which is pulsed until pieces ranging from oatmeal flakes to pea-sized form. Ice water and a beaten egg are added in three additions and pulsed until the dough holds together and moist curds and clumps form.

Bring the dough together in a disk…

…then roll the disk between two sheets of parchment into an 11 inch circle.

My dough was a little sticky so I put it in the freezer for a bit before I transferred the dough to the tart tin. It still tried to stick to the parchment, but it surrendered without too much fuss and eased into the tin. Some pricks with a fork and off to the fridge for an hour.

I blind baked the crust for 15 minutes at 375 degrees, then removed the pie weights. One section had shrunk a little so I built it up with some leftover dough and baked for another 2 or 3 minutes until the crust lost its shine. This is less time than called for in the recipe, because I thought 20 minutes plus 4 more would result in an overly brown crust.

I let the crust cool for an hour then started on the tart filling. I had taken two eggs and some unsalted butter out of the fridge in the morning to allow them to come to room temperature. Almond flour, all purpose flour, salt and baking power get whisked together in a bowl. The softened butter is beaten with sugar for three minutes, then in go the eggs and then the almond extract. Oh the almond aroma! Finally, the flours are mixed in.

Now it’s time the assemble the tart. First the raspberry jam:

I used my fingers to spread the batter, which worked well. Then sliced almonds on top.

I baked the tart for a total of 45 minutes, covering it with foil the last five minutes to prevent over browning.

I let the tart cool to room temperature then made the icing. I didn’t use all the icing, just enough to make it pretty.

We enjoyed slices for dessert on the day I made the tart. Lovely almond flavor, rich, but not overly sweet. It was equally delicious with with tea the next afternoon, which (of course!) I drank from the Star Baker cup I received from my son for Christmas.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Dorie – Cheese Puffers

I got excited when I read Dorie’s description of Cheese Puffers: “a cross between a muffin and a popover”. So much so that I planned Christmas dinner around them. Popovers are often paired with prime rib, so this year we would have prime rib with Cheese Puffers. The rest of the menu, braised leeks and carrots; celery root, potato and apple purée; and garlic green beans (courtesy of my sister-in-law), flowed from there. Ah yes, that is until our numbers dwindled from ten to six (thank you pandemic!) and I decided I really didn’t want a recipe I had to prepare at the last minute.

So instead, I made the Puffers the day after Christmas, when I was rested and had nothing else to cook. My brother lended a hand by grating the Gruyère. I whisked the dry ingredients together, sliced the scallions and portioned out the butter in the muffin tin ahead of time.

When we were ready for our dinner of leftovers, all I had to do was whisk together the milk and eggs, mix them into the dry ingredients, then add the cheese and sliced scallions. After placing the muffin tin in the oven to melt the butter and brushing the butter around the inside of the muffin cups, I added the batter to the tins. The Puffers baked for about twenty-nine minutes. We ate a dinner of cold leftovers with hot-from-the-oven Cheese Puffers. A little crispy on the outside and cheesy in the middle, they were delicious. They reheated nicely in the toaster oven at lunchtime the next day.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Dorie – Mokonut’s Rye-Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Who doesn’t love a chocolate chip cookie? I love that Dorie is always on the lookout for a new twist on that old favorite. Here’s one from a small restaurant in Paris, Mokonuts, that has some inspired additions.

Although the dough for this cookie comes together quickly, you do need to plan ahead: the butter and egg must be at room temperature and the dough needs to rest in the fridge overnight. (Wish I’d read the recipe once more before the day I had planned to bake them!)

Butter, sugar and brown sugar cream together in a stand mixer before the egg joins them. The flours (rye and all purpose), baking powder and baking soda get added all at once. Finally, chopped bittersweet chocolate, dried cranberries (I used fruit juice-sweetened) and poppy seeds are mixed in.

I wanted my cookies to be consistent in size so I weighed the dough and divided by 15. I weighed out fifteen 53 gram pieces of dough and rolled them into balls. I put seven balls on a cookie sheet and set them in the fridge. I froze the remaining eight balls of dough for another time.

The following evening, I baked the cookies. Before baking, a little flaky salt for that salty-sweet goodness (I used Maldon.) After 10 minutes of baking (it took 12 minutes in my oven) the cookies are tapped down to flatten them, then allowed to rest on the baking sheet.

Salty, gooey, crunchy, chewy, sour, sweet delight. I think I’ve found a new favorite.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Dorie – English Muffins

I had been anxiously awaiting the chance to bake these English Muffins since I watched Dorie bake them in a Food52 video. She made them look so fun to bake. And they were, but challenges ensued.

The dough came together very easily with the stand mixer doing the heavy lifting. One thing to note before you start: this recipe calls for instant yeast. I usually only have regular active yeast on hand, not instant. I had to run to the store before I could get going on this recipe. The dough gets kneaded by the stand mixture for about 7 or 8 minutes until looks like this:

After an hour under a towel in a buttered bowl, it will look like this:

It is a lovely, soft dough. It gets turned on itself to deflate, then covered and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

After it has doubled in bulk, the dough it deflated again and devided into 12 pieces. Each piece is rolled under your cupped hand to form a ball and placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. After rising under a towel for 40 minutes, here are the muffins-to-be:

Yep. I should have taken the time to weigh the dough and get equal sizes. And I should have left more room between the dough balls. Next time.

English muffins are cooked on a griddle, not the oven. I have a large electric griddle that I hauled out for the job. The dough balls get spanked down to flatten them after they go on the griddle. Mine deserved to be spanked because a number of them stuck to the parchment paper as I tried to lift them off. This caused them to become misshapen and partially deflate. Another note to self for next time: be liberal with the cornmeal to avoid sticking! (Darth Vader leant a hand in the muffin spanking; the spatula was a gift from my niece.)

The final “bake” takes place in the toaster. I served mine with butter and homemade raspberry jam leftover from another baking project. These muffins were crisp and the outside and chewy on the inside. Truly delicious and infinitely superior to store bought.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Dorie – Apple Pandowdy

I was so pleased when Apple Pandowdy was chosen as one of the November bakes for Tuesdays with Dorie. I needed something delicious to bring to my mother-in-law’s birthday celebration. She loves apple pie and this one-crust apple pie was just the ticket.

I got a start the day before the celebration by making the dough. For years I have used dough recipes from a pastry course I attended. The technique uses a food processor to mix the fat (butter and shortening), then the liquid is mixed in by hand. Depending on the type of dough, the fat may be further incorporated by pushing the dough with the heel of your hand. I was always pleased with the results. I decided to take a leap of faith and use Dorie’s all butter dough recipe for my Pandowdy.

My faith in Dorie was rewarded. The dough came together easily in the food processor. No need to mix the water in by hand; it is added slowly into the fat mixture while still in the food processor. I used less water than I usually do. My only trouble was getting a nice shape on the roll out. It did not matter for the Pandowdy, because I was going to cut the dough into pieces, but I will need to work on it when I make the dough for a pie.

The day of the birthday celebration, I peeled the apples. I purchased a bag of apples from my weekly produce delivery and they were very small. I needed a couple more apples so I used some larger apples I had on hand. Because I had different sizes of apples. I decided to cut them into cubes instead of slices. This task took a lot more time than I had allotted myself. Next time I will do slices!

I chose to use a pastry cutter to cut triangles of various sizes to form the crust. Per Dorie’s advice, I left spaces for the juices to bubble through.

I checked on the Pandowdy after the minimal baking time, but the juices were not bubbling toward the middle of the pie. I ended up baking for about 10 or 15 minutes longer than the maximum baking time, but I think my oven is a little off. I pulled it out just in time to head over to the birthday celebration. We served the Pandowdy with vanilla ice cream (oat milk ice cream for the birthday girl.) Everyone loved it! The crust was melt-in-the-mouth tender. I think this dessert can best be summed up by the Dinah Shore song my father-in-law quoted: “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy, makes your eyes light up, your tummy say ‘Howdy’. I will definitely make this again.