Caramelized Pear Upside Down Cake

My life is stressful. It’s the best thing ever and I wouldn’t change it, but it’s stressful. Between gymnastics and viola and school, time for anything else (namely…friends- remember when I had those?) is limited. However, time for baking is never limited. In my mind, Baking>Viola>Schoolwork. So when I had pears that were patiently waiting to be made into something delicious, I just can’t pass up on an opportunity like that. πŸ˜‰ So this cake was born. I was thinking of making an apple pear crisp (which I will do later, but meanwhile this one will have to do), but since I had just made one, this cake sounded absolutely amazing. And it was. And you should make it. Um..now.

Caramelized Pear Upside Down Cake: Adapted from Fine Cooking

Ingredients

For the Topping

  • 1 pound ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 recipe caramel*
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • Crystallized ginger (optional)

For the Cake

  • 6 3/4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon (or about 10 grates) ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup milk ( or Vanilla Soy Milk!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 7 1/2 ounces (1 cup) light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs

Basic Caramel

  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped out (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×2 inch cake pan (make sure it isn’t a springform)
  2. Arrange the cut up pears in a circle around the bottom of the pan, having them slightly overlap. Have them with the point facing towards the center of the pan. If they don’t fit perfectly, you can cut the ends off, and if they are too short to reach the middle, add a few smaller pieces in the middle to cover it.
  3. To make the caramel, put the sugar over medium heat and stir until brown and liquidy. Add the vanilla bean. Remove from the heat and whisk in the 4 tablespoons of butter, one at a time, until completely combined.
  4. Pour the hot caramel over the pears. It should spread evenly across all of the pears. Sprinkle on crystallized ginger if desired.
  5. For the cake, whisk together in a medium bowl, the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a small bowl, stir together the vanilla and the milk.
  6. Cream the butter and the sugar, and then add in the eggs one at a time. Once combined, alternate adding in the flour mixture and the milk mixture until just incorporated.
  7. Spoon the batter in large dollops over the pears and smooth into an even layer. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, 35-45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then carefully flip the cake onto a plate

Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. πŸ˜‰

-Rayna πŸ™‚

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Blueberry Buttermilk Scones

This week has been hectic. Late nights filled with papers and math problems are starting up again, so my baking time becomes much more limited than it was all summer. My limited time however, makes the recipes that much more important, so when we had buttermilk and fresh picked blueberries we got at the farmer’s market, this recipe was screaming my name. Although I’ve had quite a number of experiences with muffins, I have never made scones before. I had been told multiple times just how easy they were, and now that I’ve made them, I’m hooked on. These weren’t too sweet, and they weren’t too dense and they were just amazing with the delectable turbinado sugar on top to give it that extra crunch. I know I’m drooling over this, so before I babble on too much, I’ll share this spectacular recipe with you!

Blueberry-Buttermilk Scones: From Martha Stewart

Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) blueberries
  • 1/2 cup low-fat or fat free buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 more for egg wash
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Turbinado Sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 and spray an 11×17 cookie sheet.
  2. Whisk together flours, granulated sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix the butter in with a pastry cutter or rub together with your fingers until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Stir in the blueberries.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, 1 egg, and vanilla extract. Drizzle over the flour mixture and stir together with a fork, until the dough comes together but a little bit of flour remains at the bottom.
  4. Turn the dough over onto a lightly floured work surface, and gently kneed once or twice and pat into a 1 inch thick round. Cut into twelve wedges and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.Brush with egg wash and sprinkle turbinado sugar on top. Bake for 22 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

Once you try these scones, your mornings will suddenly get much better. πŸ™‚

-Rayna πŸ™‚

Blueberry Brown Sugar Plain Cake

With all of the crazy add-everything-in-the kitchen crazy flavors baking out there, sometimes it’s nice to go back to the basics, and classics. So who else to go to besides Dorie’s Baking book? This Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake is light because of the whipped egg whites, but the brown sugar gives it a nice warm sweetness and then the punch of the blueberries is just a perfect combination. A must have…always. πŸ™‚

Blueberry Brown Sugar Plain Cake

From Dorie Greenspan Baking From My Home to Yours

Makes one 11×7 pan, about 15 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour (plus a few tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 large eggs and 2 whites
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (I used vanilla flavored almond milk, yum!)
  • 1 pint blueberries, fresh (frozen if you have to)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 11×7 baking pan
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon if you’re using it.
  3. Rinse the blueberries and toss them in 1-2 tablespoons of flour until just coated.
  4. With a stand or a hand mixer, whisk the 2 egg whites until they form firm glossy peaks. Be careful not to overwhip! Once done, if using a stand mixer, scrape into a different bowl, or a hand mixer, just a new bowl.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar until combined. Add in the 2 eggs until combined.
  6. Add in half of the dry ingredients, combine, then all of the milk, and then the rest of the dry ingredients. Be careful not to over mix, only mix until just combined!
  7. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in 1/4 of the egg whites. Then carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites, being sure to use a light hand. Add in the blueberries, being careful to fold them in.
  8. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

It’s a classic. A must make. A must eat πŸ™‚

-Rayna πŸ™‚

Stone Fruit Cobbler

As I look over to the fruit counter overflowing with nectarines, peaches, plums, and mangoes, they are just screaming for me to bake them into a delectable dessert. The idea for this peach-nectarine-plum-mango cobbler started out with having 2 gorgeous peaches a little too mushy to be eaten, but not rotten. Of course you can’t make a cobbler with just 2 peaches, so in go the nectarines. The cobbler was looking very orange at this point, so what better than a few dark and sugar sweet plums to throw in? While they joined the party, poor mister mango was feeling left out, now that all of his friends had been thrown into this fruit filled concoction. So in he went too. You never know what you’ll create when you’re in a kitchen full of fresh fruit :).

And of course my mother being my mother, threw in some almond extract and some Creme de Cassis (my secret ingredient…shh!) to make this amazing cobbler. A must try for anyone that likes food and summer. πŸ™‚

Stone Fruit Cobbler (or Peach-Nectarine-Plum-Mango Cobbler)

For the Fruit Filling

  • 2 large ripe peaches, cut into strips (about 4 cups)
  • 2-3 large ripe nectarines, cut into strips
  • 2 medium sized plums, cut into strips
  • 1 mango, scored and cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Creme de Cassis

For the Cobbler

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking dish
  2. For the Topping: In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder. Add in the milk and unsalted butter until smooth. Set aside.
  3. For the Filling: Slice all of the fruit and place in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, almond extract, Creme de Cassis, and cornstarch and mix until all of the fruit is coated. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the fruit filling into the baking dish and using a large spoon, blob the mixture on top. Do not spread. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until top is a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean.

This dessert is heaven. It’s that good. It will not disappoint πŸ™‚

-Rayna πŸ™‚

Cherry Crisp

Sorry for the disappearance everyone! For this past week I was flipping around at gymnastics camp in Crossville, Tennessee. After I got back from that stifling weather in Tennessee, I wasn’t the happiest camper once the northeast was 103 degrees. So what other sensible thing to do than bake?

As you all are aware, summer is the absolute BEST time for fruit. It’s juicy, ripe, and just waiting to be made into some delectable summer treat. When my mom came back with a bag of ruby red cherries, I knew what to do.

This is not a recipe for those who are afraid of getting dirty, because as I found out AFTER pitting the bag all by hand, cherries stain! So I would advise either wearing gloves, or if you plan on doing more with these tasty little cherries, you could invest in a cherry pitter.

Cherry Crisp: Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients

For the Crisp Topping

  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch squares
  • 3/4 cup pecans, choppped

For the Cherry Filling

  • 1 (2 pound) bag of cherries, pitted (about 6 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Creme de Cassis

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray an oval baking pan
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the pitted cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and Creme de Cassis. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, or until mixture becomes thicker.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugars, and cinnamon together until combined. Add in the butter until completely coated. Once coated, break apart the butter pieces with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. Add the pecans, combine, and set aside.
  4. Put the cherries in the baking dish and spread around evenly. Sprinkle on the topping.
  5. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, and then raise the temperature to 400 degrees for the last 5. Once the top is a nice golden brown and the cherries are bubbling out the sides, it’s done!

Scoop out with hungry eyes and eat with vanilla ice cream πŸ™‚

*Note* If you would like, you can replace the Creme de Cassis with vanilla extract.

It’s nice to be home. And baking. πŸ™‚

-Rayna πŸ™‚

Blackberry Swirl Pound Cake

That’s right, a Blackberry Swirl Pound Cake. This dense delight has swirls of sweet blackberryness in every bite. Although it takes over an hour to bake, trust me, it’s worth it. Say goodbye to your bowl of cereal and say hello to heaven!

You could use any berry you want, raspberries and blueberries are more than okay to use. Mixed Berry Swirl Pound Cake anyone? With a dollop of some freshly made vanilla whipped cream? Say goodbye to the perfect summer body and say hello to the perfect summer breakfast/snack/dessert!

Blackberry Swirl Pound Cake- Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces blackberries (1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I used Chobani Fat Free Greek Yogurt for even more tang-yum!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×5 loaf pan.
  2. In a food processor, puree the blackberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together flour and baking powder.
  3. In another bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until smooth. Add in eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. Mix in the dry ingredients and the sour cream, alternating between them.
  5. Add 1/2 of the dough into the loaf pan and spread to the edges with a spatula. Dot 1/2 cup of the blackberry puree on top . Add on the remaining dough and then the remaining puree on top.
  6. Take a knife or skewer and swirl the batter and the puree together.
  7. Bake for 1 1/4 hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for at least 30 minutes before taking out of the loaf pan.
  8. Eat the entire loaf before anyone else gets any….or not πŸ™‚

Excuse me while I hide this delectable dense delight before anyone else can get to it.

-Rayna πŸ™‚

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

When we hear strawberry shortcake, cookie doesn’t come up in my mind. So when we had the most adorable little strawberries, I couldn’t not bake with them. No rhubarab so there goes my strawberry rhubarb pie, but I had just gotten heavy cream while I was at the store getting butter for the Nutella Buttercream (see Baci Blondies with Nutella ButtercreamΒ ) Helloooooo heaven. These were so light and refreshing compared to the bold flavors of the chocolate and Nutella in the brownies. They were just sweet enough, but oh so tasty.

I made these from Martha Stewart and they were absolutely DELICIOUS.

Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries (small chunks, not strips)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 9 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, chopped into little pieces
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and in a small bowl, combine the chopped strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tbsp of sugar.

2. In a different bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and the remaining 7 tbsp of sugar.

3. Mix in the butter chunks to the flour mixture and mix with your hands (:D) until it looks like coarse chunks.

4. Stir in the heavy cream until it starts to resemble a dough, and then add in the strawberries and mix.

5. Scoop the dough onto sprayed trays, make sure to use an even amount of dough for each cookie. Sprinkle the tinest of pinches of sugar on each cookie (yummm)

6. Bake for 24 minutes, or until the cookies turn a pretty golden brown color and let cool.

7. If you want, eat with whipped cream (my mom made it herself with some vanilla extract- YUM) or just enjoy as is πŸ™‚