Category: streusel

Cherry “surprise” coffee cake (the surprise is cream cheese!).

Cherry cream cheese surprise coffee cake.

Indy and I are best buds. When Jay leaves for work at night, it’s just us. We watch TV, cook (okay, I cook), read, or cuddle in bed, sometimes blogging. He usually naps during those activities. However when I get up he follows me around relentlessly. Even waiting outside the bathroom for me. I call him my shadow. My 100-lb. shadow… & bodyguard.

Consequently, Indy is also my baking buddy.

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Gettin’ pumpkin apple sauce-y.

Happy October! My favorite month. It’s finally cool enough to bake more. It’s time for super fresh apples & tons of pumpkins. And all the best spices are fall-appropriate: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, etc. And let’s not forget that it’s the month of my favorite holiday- Halloween!

it's October!(Ironically, the dates are the same this year! Except Columbus Day)

 

So we’re going to celebrate my favorite month/upcoming holiday & get sauced! Or not. Or actually… yeah we are, but not in the way you think. A different kinda sauced.

Like I said, it’s both apple season & pumpkin season. Everyone is going apple picking, pumpkin picking, & shoving apple cider donuts & pumpkin lattes in their pie hole. You can’t go anywhere without tripping over pumpkins for sale & bushels of apples. So of course I had this big old batch of bright, shiny, fresh apples, right? Apples don’t last forever. So they had to be used up, right? And naturally I’ve already stocked up on organic canned pumpkin. Well…

*siiiiiiiiigh*

I made applesauce. I know what you’re thinking:

 “Three posts in a row about apples!? BO-RING!”

But wait.

Yes, I made applesauce. But… it’s not what you think. I had to add pumpkin.

I know. SAY WHAT?  APPLESAUCE WITH PUMPKIN?!

Uh huh. Yup.

I'm ready for applesauce. And you know what? Let's add a little pumpkin, shall we?

Gorgeous apples & organic canned pumpkin… together. With cinnamon streusel muffins to go with it.

Blame it on the Food Network magazine.

Blame it on the rain. I don’t know. Blame it on the fact that I can’t keep myself out of the kitchen once the fall comes!

Pumpkin applesauce! Because why make the same ol boring applesauce?

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I am the Pumpkin King! Er, Queen.

Well, it’s October. Time really flew by, didn’t it? This means it’s time for my Annual Autumnal baking frenzy.

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In my house, there never really needs to be a reason for a baking frenzy. With me, you never hear anyone say “You baked? What’s the occasion?” As a matter of fact, it’s more like, “You didn’t bake this week?! Why? WHAT HAPPENED!?”

And I’m actually pretty proud of that. I’m proud of being the kitchen witch I am. But over the summer, it’s rare that I bake every week. Usually in the summer it’s ice cream, frozen yogurt, and jams/jellies/pickles. When the mercury goes up, the baking is reserved for cooler days, late nights, special fresh fruits that beg to be incorporated into something other than jam, and summer birthdays. That’s not to say it never happens. It just has to happen when my kitchen (the hottest room in the house) isn’t rivaling a Russian banya for the hottest place in the world award. But that’s why I welcome fall. Even though the temperatures take a while to catch up, and it stays pretty warm until Halloween most years (except last year when we had snow before Halloween), it’s still much less humid and much more comfortable once mid-September hits. And then by the time it’s October? Forget it. Because of that, fall in my house is usually a cavalcade, or cornucopia if you will, of delicious baked goods. Hey- I’ve been saving it up practically all summer! And what a great time it is for baking.

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See October isn’t just when kids start wishing school was ending already and the stores begin putting out Christmas decorations or when the weather cools down enough so I get to scratch that baking itch (that I suppress all summer). It’s pumpkins. It’s apples. It’s fall leaves. It’s harvest moons. It’s Halloween. Ohh man. I’m bananas for Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday, and I go all out. I decorate like crazy, I carve pumpkins, and I bake Halloween-themed things the entire month! Yeah, I know, I kinda do that stuff for every holiday, though this time of year is my definite favorite. I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach as soon as the wind changes and the air gets crisper. I can’t even describe to you how excited I get for Halloween. And for the past few years I’ve done a sort of compilation post for each season/holiday, including Halloween. I usually keep it at cupcakes, but I add in some candies or cookies, maybe throw in a muffin or two. However I thought maybe this year I’d forgo that, seeing as how there’s the new Recipe Index that lists basically every single recipe (almost) that I’ve ever posted. But you can also always check back to see last year’s Halloween Compilation post, and the one from the year before. You can also just see last year’s Halloween tricks & treats: here, here, here, here, here & finally here. Although you’d be missing out on some great stuff from previous years!

This year I decided to just start right in with the baking, ’cause honestly I got a little tired of all the compiling. I never was very good at filing & collating, I’d make a shitty secretary.

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So instead of spending my time doing all that work, I just made these pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes instead. Mmm hmm. You’re welcome. For the people out there wondering what exactly they are… it’s a pumpkin cupcake, topped with some “cheesecake filling” and then some cinnamon crumb.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE CUPCAKES

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
Cheesecake filling:
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, (softened)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
Crumb topping:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F degrees. Line a 24-cup cupcake pan with paper liners. In a small mixing bowl, combine topping ingredients. Blend with fork until crumbly. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and all-spice; set aside- that’s your crumb topping. In another larger bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.
  3. In another medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth. That’s your cheesecake filling. Set it aside.
  4. Divide the pumpkin batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Top each with around 1/2 tablespoon to one full tablespoon of the cheesecake filling, then sprinkle with some crumb topping.
  5. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake part (not the cheesecake part) comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

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For me, now, it’s officially fall. And more important… it’s officially Halloween-time. The first pumpkin recipe of the year! And not just pumpkin but cream cheese too? So much better than a pumpkin pie. So much better than a regular pumpkin cupcake. So much better than your average pumpkin muffin. You can’t take a pie with you to work- but these you can. And pumpkin cupcakes & muffins don’t have this special added cream cheesy fun on top (unless… unless it’s these pumpkin muffins, then yes, they do). They’re moist, pumpkin-y, cheesecake-y, cinnamon-y, spicy, warming and filling, too. One cupcake is more than enough at once. It’s definitely not the kind you can just inhale one after another. And just so you know, I made 18 cupcakes and one 8″ cake layer with this recipe. The cake had to bake longer, but came out delicious, and it would probably make a great layer cake. Also, it would be excellent baked in a 9″ loaf pan, too. Or maybe two loaf pans if you’re using the entire recipe & not just half.

Also, the pumpkin recipe itself, without the cheesecake filling & crumb topping, makes a spectacular cupcake. Just frost it with whatever frosting you want.

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But a deep burnt orange colored pumpkin cupcake with a creamy cheesecake filling slash topping & some semi-crunchy brown sugar crumb on top? Sign. Me. The hell. Up.

Happy Samhain.

Samhain (play /ˈsɑːwɪn/, /ˈs.ɪn/, or /ˈsn/)[1] derived from the Old Irish Samuin meaning “summer’s end”,[11] was the first and the most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Irish and Scottish[12] calendar[13][14] and, falling on the last day of autumn, it was a time for stock-taking and preparation for the cold winter months ahead.[11] It’s better known as a Gaelic harvest festival, which is held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the “Celtic New Year” from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer.[2] The date of Samhain was associated with the Catholic All Saints’ Day (and later All Souls’ Day) from at least the 8th century, and both the secular Gaelic and the Catholic liturgical festival have influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween.[3]

The medieval Goidelic festival of Samhain marked the end of the harvest, the end of the “lighter half” of the year and beginning of the “darker half”. It was celebrated over the course of several days and had some elements of a Festival of the Dead. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.[4]

There was also a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen.[13][14] To ward off these spirits, the Gaels built huge, symbolically regenerative bonfires and invoked the help of the gods through animal and perhaps even human sacrifice.[11] In the Western Isles of Scotland the Sluagh, or fairy host was regarded as composed of the souls of the dead flying through the air, and the feast of the dead at Hallowe’en was likewise the festival of the fairies.[15]

Samhain is celebrated as a religious festival by some neopagans.[5]

 

- Wikipedia

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Like a lemon to a lime, a lime to a lemon.

I don’t know if you remember, but I made another version of this pie back in December. That was the “winter” version; cranberries & cinnamon. This, however, is the summer version. Inspired by this.

Yes, sometimes I keep my lemons in a mortar & pestle…

And also inspired by MCA’s lyric in one of my favorite Beastie Boys’ songs, No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn; “Like a lemon to a lime, a lime to a lemon, I sip the def ale with all the fine women.” As you probably know, MCA a.k.a. Adam Yauch passed away on May 4th. The Beastie Boys were always a favorite of mine, and they play a big role for me in the soundtrack of my life. I’ve got some awesome memories that match up with songs off more than just one of their albums, not to mention when I saw them back in 1998 it was one of the most fun concerts I’ve been to. Some of their songs are just sentimental favorites. I think that’s the one thing that is comforting about “famous” people passing, whether it’s John Lennon or Johnny Cash or Kurt Cobain or Mozart or Adam Yauch- the fact that they never really die. The music lives on in our memories and on records and CD’s and iTunes forever. As far as my computer is concerned, The Beatles are all alive & kicking, just like it’s 1965. But it made me really sad to hear MCA died for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that he was only 47 years old, and that he left a 14-year-old daughter. Fucking cancer. The older I get, the more I realize how young 47 is, and just how much cancer really bites the big one.

Anyway, I was listening to some Beastie Boys songs, I knew I was going to bake something up, then I heard that lyric & saw the bowl of lemons, and I got an idea. Plus, add the fact that I was going to make something for my dad, and he loves blueberries… I came up with this idea of altering the infamous crustless cranberry pie into a more summery dish. Whereas last time this pie was made with cranberries & cinnamon, blueberries & lemon zest are the two main players this time, along with the sliced almonds. You can add a bit of lemon extract just to boost the flavor, but it’s not 100% necessary (I didn’t). You could also add lime zest too, if you really like that particular lyric. Another option would to be to dollop some lemon curd on top of it over the streusel before baking. It’ll brown and bubble up and get all creamy warm, like a lemon custard. Or, you can swirl some lemon curd in it before baking, or just serve it with some lemon curd & cream. It’s not really a pie. It’s not just a cake. It’s more like a coffee cake, or cobbler. And so, a new version was born. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the Beastie Boys, but it’s just inspired by a lyric. It’s not like I wanted to create a literal interpretation of B-Boy Bouillabaisse. Although, shit. That would’ve been a great idea.

Like a lemon to a blueberry, a blueberry to a lemon, I eat the def pie with all the fine women.

Listen, I’m not a lyricist. I bake.

As you can see, streusel hates me. It always melts down into nothing. Oh well.

And just in case you’re wondering, I got that pie plate for a whopping $2.50 after Thanksgiving at Michael’s. I love the color (goes especially great with blueberries) & the large ruffle around the edge. I think collecting pie plates might be my new “thing.” I’ve only got three so far (this one, a pink one and one that was my mom’s that has a recipe for apple pie on it), but next on my list is a regular old Pyrex clear glass one. I’ve heard they’re the best for baking pies with a crust. Emile Henry makes some really nice decorative ones. Do you have a favorite pie plate?

Sorry, I got off-track there for a bit. Let’s get back to the goods.

MCA’S “LIKE A LEMON TO A BLUEBERRY” CRUSTLESS PIE (altered from the original cranberry-based recipe which was from All Recipes, also with alterations)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons set aside for topping
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole fresh blueberries (or whole frozen)
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, divided, half set aside for topping
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • zest of one whole lemon
  • ½ cup butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons butter just softened, set aside for topping
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • drop of lemon extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Grease one 9″-inch pie pan (or 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish).
  2. Combine the 1 cup flour, white sugar, lemon zest and salt. Stir in the blueberries and half the almonds, and toss to coat. Stir in the ½ cup melted butter, beaten eggs, vanilla and lemon extracts. If you are using frozen berries, the mixture will be very thick. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons softened butter & light brown sugar together to make a streusel-like topping. Sprinkle mixture on top of pie. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup almonds on top of that, or arrange neatly if that’s your bag.
  4. Bake at 350° degrees F for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.

The coolest thing about this ‘pie’ is exactly the fact that it’s not really a pie. It’s called a ‘crustless pie’ but you can call it anything you want. It’s like a zombie-pie-cobbler-coffee-cake. It doesn’t even require a pie crust! But even cooler than that- you can eat it any time of day. Because of the fruit-y aspect & the nuts, you can eat a slice for breakfast just as easily as for dessert (with some whipped cream or ice cream). And depending on how you make it, you might make it more breakfast-y or more dessert-y. Use whole wheat flour or add some oats for a totally different spin. And another amazing thing? You can use any fruit or berries in it, any kind of nuts, any kind of extract and zest.

Some other ideas include:

  • Blackberries & raspberries with almonds
  • Chopped strawberries with lemon zest & sliced strawberries & almonds arranged on top before baking
  • Peach slices with vanilla beans & chopped pecans
  • Chopped pineapple with Macadamia nuts & orange zest
  • Cranberries with cinnamon, walnuts & steel cut oats
  • Mango with flaked coconut, coconut extract, lime zest & pine nuts
  • Dried cherries with dark & white chocolate chips & walnuts
  • Banana slices with chocolate chips
  • Raisins & golden raisins with cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped walnuts & steel cut oats- “Oatmeal cookie pie”
  • Chocolate chunks with chopped hazelnuts & marshmallows (minus the streusel)- “Rocky Road pie”

Of course, some of those aren’t 100% seasonally appropriate right now, but that’s up to you. You could even mix some marmalade in with the batter, then top it with some chopped or sliced nuts, then brush it with more marmalade right out of the oven (so it gets all melty like a glaze) and make a sort of marmalade-pie-cobbler-whatever. Honestly, it’s so easy, and it’s so easy to change it up that you can totally do anything with it. You can tinker with it ’till your hearts content. Plus, it’s basically the perfect last-minute picnic or barbecue dessert. It takes no time to make,  doesn’t even require a mixer, travels well & a trained monkey could do it. Or someone who’s been drinking some Brass Monkey. Whatever. It’s easy, trust me. Blast some Ill Communication and get on that shit!

Rest in peace, Adam.

“He who sees the end from the beginning of time
Looking forward through all the ages:
Is, was, and always shall be.”

“B-Boy Bouillabaisse (A Year And A Day),” Paul’s Boutique

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Morning on 71st Street, NY

Or so I’ve heard.

‘Cause I’m not a big morning person. I’m actually mostly anti-mornings, being a total night owl. That makes me an anti-breakfast person by default, so I don’t truly believe that old adage. I’ve always been a “grab a quick bagel with butter on the way to work/school/etc” girl myself, & somehow I always managed to get through the day without crashing & burning. At least, not completely.

However that is my kind of breakfast. A mini-coffee cake muffin topped with a spoonful of homemade vanilla-brandy chestnut jam. Say whaaaaaaat.

I made these muffins in my babycakes mini-cupcake maker, which kind of compressed the streusel to make a caramelized, crunchy top. A total surprise, but a welcome one. Streusel hates my face anyway; it never works out for me. Well except for these muffins & these muffins, both of which were properly streusel-fied. But otherwise, no. In all four (and almost one half) years of having a blog, those are the only two times it ever worked for me. So this way, I didn’t have to worry. I ended up with a lovely crust on top and just acted like I meant to do that. Heh.

Mmm, mmm good. The jam is really rich, very “expensive” tasting. And because of the brandy, it’s warming. On top of a warm coffee cake muffin it’s just over-the-top amazing. Okay, okay, so maybe it’s not your everyday breakfast. But Sunday mornings beg for stuff like this. A cold Sunday morning, the sun coming up through your window, you reading the Times & having a cup of hazelnut coffee fresh out of the Keurig… a plate of hot coffee cake muffins with a welcoming jar of vanilla-brandy chestnut jam waiting for you at the table? Perfection. Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe its not your idea of a breakfast. Even if it’s your afternoon or evening snack, it’s way better than a bag of chips, right?

It’s something comforting, and sometimes you need that. I’ve been thinking of my grandma a lot lately, so I especially need some comfort. St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, how could I not think of my little Irish red-headed grandma? It’s hard. It’s even harder still to think it’s only been a little over 7 months. On one hand it feels like it’s been 100 years since I saw her last, on the other hand it feels just like yesterday she was still here. I miss her. Not even always in a sad way- sometimes I just miss her being; her laugh, her voice, just her presence.

Yeah. I know, eating muffins doesn’t really help with grief, but we can sure try.

MINI-COFFEE CAKE MUFFINS (from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

Streusel topping:
  • ¼ cup light-brown sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Coffee cakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • Nonstick cooking spray, for pans, or use liners

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° degrees. To make the topping, in a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add butter, and work in, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, until well combined; set aside
  2. To make the batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and buttermilk, and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients; scrape down the bowl as necessary.
  3. Spray eighteen cups of a mini-muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Divide batter evenly between cups. Sprinkle topping over batter. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let stand in pans for 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Eat while warm.

If you’re using a mini-cupcake maker to bake them, use one teaspoon of batter in each (otherwise it will overflow) and bake for 8 minutes. If not, then disregard. I used liners because I hate gunking up my cupcake maker (or my muffin tins) unless I absolutely have to. But if you’d rather just pop ‘em in your mouth without the extra work of taking off the liner, then have at it.

Yeah, you know you want it.

They’d be delicious with any kind of jam or preserve (or conserve). But because they’re sweet with the spicy cinnamon topping, they’re extra good with something rich & sweet like the chestnut jam. Although the gingerbread spice jelly would probably be good, as would banana brown sugar butter. If you’re into clotted cream you could try that. They’re delicious alone, though, too. Or you can do what my grandma would do & have it with a pat or two of butter. My grandma put butter on everything… even pizza.

Speaking of butter… and baked goods… my Alfajores cookies were featured in an L Magazine piece about the best cookie recipes from local bloggers! AWESOME! Thank you Kara!

Pie are squared, or 2πr.

Did you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and/or Happy Hanukkah? I had an excellent holiday, & since Jay worked both Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, I got a third day of celebrating in yesterday on the 26th, filled with awesome gifts & copious amounts of food. And since our holiday celebration with Jay’s family has yet to be had, there’ll be yet another day of fun & gift-giving to come in January. Which is nice, it’s good to break up the monotony & boringness of January with an enjoyable event. Especially since once the hustle & bustle of the holidays & Christmas dies down, & I’m no longer being kept busy with that, I’ll feel the sadness of the losses I’ve experienced in 2011 far more poignantly once again. Ah. Such is life.

Photo: Mission Pie, San Francisco; credit: Dave Cook, Flickr

So back before Thanksgiving, when I found out what the plans were/whose house it would be at & I was figuring out what to make & bring, I had a plan. My plan was that I was going to make two pies, hence the title of the post. Why was I going to make two pies, you ask? Well, a few reasons. One- I had recently acquired two new pie plates; one gorgeous Lola-pink 9″ pie plate from my wonderful friend Brianne (who sells Longaberger, the makers of the aforementioned pie plate which is no longer available in pink) and another beautiful eggplant-colored pie plate from Michael’s that I got for an obscenely low price. So low I won’t even tell you because you’ll hate me. But you see, the pink pie plate was important. It was especially important that I show it off properly. I ordered this cute little basketweave pink pie plate back in like, May or June, and I waited for it until October 30th… patiently. It was limited edition, immediately retired, the shipment was delayed & it was back-ordered & whatever else. And then it finally came & Brianne ever-so-kindly delivered it to me during a time when she was a bit otherwise preoccupied (her new house in Connecticut that her, her husband, her 3-year-old & her almost 2 month old newborn baby had literally just moved into was slammed by the freak October snowstorm & lost power for days). So this plate was a major thing for me. The other pie plate is lovely, and is a gorgeous color with a fluted ruffly edge, but it doesn’t match Lola or my website, so it doesn’t have as much significance. Anything that matches Lola is a must with me. My kitchen is not a masculine place, hah. Plus, being it was part of their breast cancer initiative, Horizon of Hope, & my mom is a survivor, the pink color has double significance.

Reason two for the pie dramatics: I like pie- not really fruit pies, but chocolate, Shoo-fly or creamy ones; like coconut cream, chocolate cream, etc. Those are the kinda pies I can get diggity down with. Just me, a pie, a fork & some whipped cream. And reason three? Because I have a ton of pie recipes that I’ve never made. For example, Nigella Lawson’s Girdlebuster Pie. Tell me you aren’t intrigued by the title alone! And there are tons more, some of which are very traditional, some not so much, and others slightly too complicated for an everyday pie. But nonetheless, I had these two pretty little pie plates & I so desperately wanted to use them. That said, I had all intentions of making two pies for Thanksgiving. But alas I did not. And why not? Because this one pie that I tested out in the few days before turkey day was so simple yet so amazing I couldn’t bear to make another. What was it? Maple syrup pie. MAPLE. SYRUP. PIE. Read it again: maple syrup pie. Thanks to that book by Patty Pinner that it came from, my pie-making life was changed. Seriously. This pie made me rethink my non-pie-making self. It took no time at all and yet there it was, smelling all fantastic &… maple-y. Like a Shoo-fly pie but maple. I’ve made some things from the book before (namely a lemon ice cream that was so creamy & delicious it was like frozen lemony perfection) but this is just… so crazily simple & yet so delicious. I just don’t even know. But… *sigh* …unfortunately, the pie didn’t photograph well, and didn’t last very long either, admittedly. It did taste like sticky, sweet, gooey heaven on a plate.

However… it just didn’t look very good in pictures. Actually it looked downright awful; kinda poo-ish. And I used the eggplant colored pie plate, so it was all kind of dark. If you’re a blogger who takes pictures of food you know things like shoo-fly pie, pecan pie, chocolate frosting & chocolate cookies are the hardest things to photograph well. Especially in bad lighting, and my kitchen sadly has horrid lighting. And on top of that, like I said, it definitely didn’t last long enough for me to attempt another photo shoot in better light. So I was on to my next (& newer) plan: another pie. I didn’t know what kind, yet, but I just knew I’d have to use these pie plates for something photogenic & post-able!

And so Halloween came & went. Then I made the maple syrup pie, then Thanksgiving passed, & no more pie. Two batches of cupcakes instead. Then it started to inch closer to Christmas, and still no pie. Cupcakes, gingerbread cookies, brownies, etc… but I still hadn’t found the perfect pie. I kinda stopped looking for one in all the holiday hubbub. The pie plates looked more & more lonely every day. And then… crustless cranberry pie came into my life.

They say you find it when you’re not looking. Whatever “it” is.

See back before Christmas, Rosella, a friend of mine who I’ve known since freshman year of high school (which is far longer ago than I’d like to admit) had me & my mother over for coffee with her & her mom (& Rosella’s one year old baby, Giovanna). I know Rosella so long I remember when her niece was Giovanna’s age. I know her from back when we wore spike bracelets to school, when she dyed her hair green in her mom’s white bathroom sink & we “borrowed” her parents’ Infiniti to go joyriding a few too many times. I could mortify us both by posting a picture of us way back then but I won’t. And anyway, we’re talking about pie. So we all got together & Rosella served this crustless cranberry pie. Wow. SOLD. And I don’t even like cranberry. Forreals. Cranberry, almond, streusel… it was like a berry crumble-type thing. Like a coffee cake. Made in a pie plate. And it was so good. So that night I asked her for the recipe & she told me it was from AllRecipes.com! So I downloaded the app immediately. My faith in recipe websites has been restored.

CRUSTLESS CRANBERRY PIE (courtesy of Jean at All Recipes, with alterations)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons set aside for topping
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole fresh cranberries (or whole frozen)
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, divided, half set aside for topping
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons butter just softened, set aside for topping
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Grease one 9″-inch pie pan (or 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish).
  2. Combine the 1 cup flour, white sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the cranberries and half the almonds, and toss to coat. Stir in the ½ cup melted butter, beaten eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. If you are using frozen cranberries, the mixture will be very thick. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons softened butter, brown sugar & ¼ cup almonds together to make a streusel-like topping. Sprinkle mixture on top of pie.
  4. Bake at 350° degrees F for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.

This would be great with fresh blueberries in the summer, too. Or raspberries, or blackberries, or even chopped strawberries… with a bit of lemon zest. Totally adaptable. The original recipe calls for walnuts, but I took the advice of the commenters & went with almonds since that’s what Rosella did with her version, so if you prefer walnuts then that’s okay too. It’d probably be great in any capacity. I can even see it with a spoonful of fresh berry jam on it, or vanilla ice cream. Served warm or room temperature, with coffee, tea or cranberry ginger ale, it’s fantastic any way you like it. I scaled back the amount of cranberries from two cups to one, because I felt like one cup was just fine. Feel free to add the full two cups. But even if you don’t, and you end up with a practically full bag of cranberries, you can make tons of other neat cranberry stuff- amaretto cranberry sauce, pomegranate cranberry sauce, cranberry muffins (this recipe would work excellently in muffin form), cranberry bliss bars, etc. Or even make a second pie. I mean, this is a pie you can have for breakfast.

Photo: Lauretta Jean’s + Café Vélo, Portland; credit: Leela Cyd Ross

It’s true- I had it for breakfast, around 10 a.m., that day at Rosella’s mom’s house. It’s a dessert, it’s a breakfast, it’s a pie, it’s a cake. It’s everything. So really, where have you been all my life, crustless cranberry pie? The dish that made me like cranberries. Sorta. I’m still not big on them, but this pie definitely made me rethink my almost 30-year long cranberry strike. I made it for my “second Christmas” yesterday & it was a massive hit. And in my beautiful pink pie plate! Squee. Best of all? This one was extremely photogenic. And I’m no master pie-maker, I’m totally more a cake-girl than anything else, but because this is more like a coffee cake you don’t have to be a master pie-maker! No pesky crust, no bothersome filling. Easy as 1-2-3. You don’t even have to make it in a pie plate. But when you have such a pretty one like I do, why not?

Clearly the mathematical reference in the title is purely for satirical reasons. I failed math one semester in high school, it shames me to say. I got a whopping 35 on one of my math regents. I’m not bragging, and I am certainly not proud of it. I can’t help it though, I use the other side of my brain. I got a 90 on my History Regents, an 88 on Chemistry and a 92 on English. But you give me a math equation involving numbers & my mind shuts off. This doesn’t make baking difficult at all, though, because of a bevy of apps that provide me with the exact measurements & equivalents that I need, if I should need them (most of them I have memorized by now). I never thought I’d say it but my iPhone has made my life considerably easier, thank you Jay. So yes, I know the term 2πr, and that it means that the radius squared multiplied by pi (π) or 3.14 or 227, equals the circumference of a circle. However that’s where my knowledge ends. Don’t even ask about my problems with the Pythagorean Theorem. I was pretty decent at truth tables but linear pairs? Forget it. Yes, I pity my future children too; they will be seeking math homework help from the internet. Or iPad apps. But that’s okay, because they will be so insanely excellent in History & English they’ll really frighten you. As well as correct your grammar.

So really, I did make two pies. Just not at the same time, and nowhere near the same type. Pie(s) are squared.

The streusel bamboozle.

I’ve said it a gazillion times before but chocolate chip muffins are my favorite kind of muffin. Any kind of chocolate chip muffin is thumbs up in my book. So any time I see a new recipe or hear about one, or think of one, I have to make it. If you look in my muffin category (ooh, that that really sounds dirty…), you’ll see about 90% of them are chocolate chip.

Now, I’m a pretty good baker. I am. I make all kinds of shit from scratch, no mixes at all. I can wing it without a recipe if need be, I’ve substituted random things when I run out of eggs, etc and the final result has been pretty decent. I’ve made my own pasta, made a freakin’ OPERA CAKE and homemade eclairs, and they were all easy as pie, er, cake. However despite that… usually, streusel hates me. Seriously. I love it, but it just tries my patience every time. For something that simple, you’d think it’d be a breeze. But no. Streusel likes to fuck with me. One time I made it and it just disappeared into the cupcakes, leaving a sort of caramelized layer of brown sugar and flour (yeah, I was like “WTF!?”). Another time I made it and it didn’t look anything like streusel, but tasted delicious anyway. Another time I thought I had it, but it was just mush. This time though, streusel gave me a break. It realized how badly I want it, and gave in for once. I think I tricked it into working for me. How, I don’t know. But I did. Next time I’d use a light brown sugar instead of dark with these, but just for aesthetic reasons. The streusel actually came out like real streusel! Yippee!

This is a recipe altered from a previously altered Williams-Sonoma recipe that I found on Baking Blonde. Both her recipe and the original recipe sound delightfully good. As a matter of fact, unbeknownst to me, it seems that that Williams-Sonoma recipe is the same as the donut-muffin recipe I’ve been making for years! Or as Chichi calls them, “Mo’Nuts.” Awesome.

BUTTERMILK CHOCOLATE CHIP STREUSEL MUFFINS

Ingredients:

For the muffins:
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • half of a 12 oz package of chocolate chips (or more, if you like more)
For the streusel:
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp  ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
Directions:
  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray; alternately, line them with cupcake liners, which is what I prefer to do.
  2. To make the muffins, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well until pale and smooth.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add to the butter mixture in 2 additions, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. Stir just until evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each three-fourths full.
  5. To make the topping, in a small bowl, mix the flour & brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or forks until mixture resembles cornmeal. Gently sprinkle topping evenly over batter in prepared muffin tin. Gently press down topping slightly.
  6. Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins and let stand until cooled slightly.

Noms.

I prefer my muffins room temperature so I didn’t eat them right away. But they were extremely yummy. Jay even liked them, and he’s the toughest person to please, being he hates sweets (well, not really hates, but he’d much rather have a pizza… or steak). I’m just so happy my streusel came out this time… but seriously, the muffins were really good. The liners are from sweet estelle’s baking supply, if anyone is interested.

Unfortunately I couldn’t wear one of my two new Two Lumps of Sugar cupcake aprons from Yoyo because they hadn’t arrived yet when these were baked. But I’m so happy and I can’t wait to use them- they bring my apron total to 11 now!  I know, I know, I have to take pictures. I’m really bad at that. I will though, I promise. I did take one picture though… because I was even more excited when I realized my nail polish matched one of the aprons!

I know I have a problem, but aprons are useful as well as cute. So it’s a collection that isn’t completely useless gathering dust like… stamps or something. Like I said, my count is up to eleven now. Three Jessie Steele aprons with matching oven mitts (fall cupcake print, pink & brown polka dots & leopard print), two handmade aprons from Yoyo (one police-themed & one a reversible Halloween theme- you can buy one of her half apron creations at her store), and a few vintage half-aprons: a red, white & blue patriotic one & a vintage flowered print one, plus a birthday half-apron with a cupcake on it that isn’t vintage. Then I have one from Foodbuzz (just plain white with the logo) and then these two new gorgeous additions I got last week!

Psst… If you’re an apron maker, and you want to pimp your aprons… feel free to send one my way *wink* I’ll pimp you from now ’till next year! I’m always looking for new additions to my collection, especially handmade (but not exclusively handmade, I’m not opposed to a mass-manufactured apron- trust me) because I like to support craftspeople. Buy handmade!