Real Strawberry Shortcake {ModBak}

We’ve been getting some beautiful strawberries this year and using them as many ways as we can. We’ve eaten them whole, sliced, and macerated, and I’ve made a number of desserts featuring fresh strawberries. There are a number of recipes I would like to remember for future years, so, I’ve declared this week “Strawberry Week” on my blog and invited my blogging friends to join in.

Two recipes I made (and the base for a third) happen to be from the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge, including this one for a simple, classic strawberry shortcake. As with most strawberry shortcakes, this recipe consists of three components: shortcakes, macerated strawberries, and whipped cream.

For the strawberries, I hulled, washed, and sliced them, then mixed them with sugar (it didn’t take much, as these were height-of-the-season, super sweet strawberries). I set them aside to macerate while I made the shortcakes.

I began by mixing flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of my food processor. I added cold butter and pulsed until it was finely mixed in.

I whisked egg and buttermilk together, added them to the food processor, and mixed until I had a soft, wet dough.

The recipe presents two options for the shortcake. It can be made as a single cake in an 8-inch round pan, or baked as individual shortcakes by mounding the dough on a baking sheet. I opted for individual shortcakes.

I baked the shortcakes for about 15 minutes, until they were firm and lightly browned.

While the shortcakes were baking, I whipped heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract with the stand mixer.

After the shortcakes had cooled enough to handle, I cut them in half, buttered them, and assembled the shortcakes.

Each shortcake consisted of a buttered shortcake half, topped with strawberries and whipped cream, and finished with the remaining shortcake half.

If strawberries are the perfect fruit, then these may be the perfect dessert. The shortcakes and whipped cream accent the strawberry flavor without overshadowing it. And did I mention that start to finish this recipe takes less than an hour to prepare?

This was a great recipe to highlight fresh strawberries, and a great way to kick off Strawberry Week. Here’s what’s in store for the rest of the week:


Lemon Loaf Cake {TWD-BWJ}

This is the second April recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie. Unlike the pizza rustica, which involved mixing and rolling crust, making filling, and shaping a lattice topping, the lemon loaf cake was a quick batter that went from bowl to oven in about 5 minutes. In fact, the most complicated part of the whole thing was denuding the lemons.

The cake baked up beautifully and smelled fresh and lemony when it came out of the oven.

I served the lemon cake for dessert after a dinner of the pizza rustica. Both were big hits with my family.

Our hosts for this week were Truc of Treats and Michelle of The Beauty of Life. Visit their blogs for the recipe. And check out the TWD main page to see what everyone else thought of this recipe.

Irish Soda Bread {TWD-BWJ}

Although I’ve recently had to cut back on my baking/blogging commitments, I’ve been toying with joining the second round of Tuesdays with Dorie since it was announced. I bought the book Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan a while ago but hadn’t made anything from it yet. So when a group was announced to regularly bake recipes from the book, I was sorely tempted to join. What finally tipped the scales was the fact that there would only be two recipes per month, and members are only required to post one of the two. A once a month commitment fits even my schedule, so I decided to jump in.

The other thing that helped me decide was the second recipe for March: Irish soda bread. I love Irish soda bread and make it regularly, especially around this time of year. In fact, by the time I saw this pick for March 20, I had already made two soda breads: one from a Bob’s Red Mill mix and the other Irish whiskey soda bread from my friend Michele’s blog. I ended up taking these loaves to work, where they were both big hits, so I needed to make another loaf for home for St. Patrick’s Day. What better way to ease into TWD than baking something I was going to make anyway?

This is a very simple recipe. There are only four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The dry ingredients get whisked together, then the buttermilk is stirred in and the whole thing is formed into a loaf. After slashing the top of the loaf with the traditional cross-shaped pattern, it goes into a 375°F oven for about 50 minutes.

This loaf baked up beautifully and looked like a traditional soda bread. We had already had dinner by the time I made it, so I ate a piece of the bread with butter for an evening snack. It came out a bit dry for my liking. I didn’t check the temperature of the loaf during or after baking, so I’m not sure if it overbaked or if that texture was to be expected. There is almost no fat in the bread, so I’m not surprised it came out kind of dry.

As far as the flavor goes, it was just so-so. The buttermilk gave it a nice tang, but otherwise it was a bit bland. Of the three soda breads I made this week, this came in third in both flavor and texture. Others have reported liking it more than I, so I might try it again sometime. But for now, it’s definitely not a contender to become my go-to soda bread recipe.

Pumpkin Cornbread {Recipe} {Autumn Roundup}

When my friend Di announced that she was hosting an Autumn baking roundup, I signed on right away. This is my favorite time of year, and I love the flavors of the season. I wasn’t sure what I would make (the theme is “Handmade Loaves”), but I knew I’d find something appropriate to the Fall weather.

I actually came up with this recipe the other night when I was gearing up for the Pumpkin Dinner Roundup that I hosted last week. I had already made and blogged my recipe for that event, Stuffed Pumpkin. But I got the idea to try a cornbread featuring pumpkin, and I thought about changing my Pumpkin Roundup post if it worked out as planned. That’s when I remembered Di’s roundup and decided to submit this recipe for that event.

Like most cornbread recipes, this one begins by mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combining them and mixing briefly before spreading in a pan.

Pumpkin Cornbread


  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Grease 8×11 ½-inch pan with spray oil.
  2. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in large bowl until well mixed.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, then add pumpkin, butter, and maple syrup and mix well.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until evenly moistened. Spread batter in pan and smooth top.
  5. Bake cornbread for 25-30 minutes, until firm to touch and cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

Yields 8-10 servings.

This was a delicious cornbread, and paired especially well with chili. I ate it warm on the day it was baked, and it had a definite pumpkin flavor. It reminded me of pumpkin bread, although not as sweet. I tried more the next morning and was surprised to find that at room temperature it tasted more like a traditional cornbread. I could hardly taste the pumpkin.

So, warm or room temperature, this is a great cornbread. And perfect for a cool Fall day.

Cream Cheese Scones {Bake!}

This week’s Bake! selection is from our newest baker, Glennis, who chose these simple, delicious scones for her first pick. And a great pick it was.

The dough consisted of flour, sugar, baking powder, cream cheese, salt, butter, eggs, and milk, and came together very quickly in the food processor. After mixing the dough, I dumped it out on a floured board, kneaded it a few times, and divided it in two.

I shaped each piece of dough into a circle about six inches in diameter, then scored each one into six sections.

Although the recipe didn’t call for it, I topped each scone with sprinkling sugar. I baked the scones at 425°F for 20 minutes, let them cool a bit, then divided them.

I served the scones with red currant jelly. They were moist, not as crumbly as many scones, and really delicious.

This was such a simple and quick recipe. It took just over half-an-hour start to finish. Definitely one to make again and again.

Danish Cheese Pockets {Bake!}

For a recent Twitterbake, my friend Margaret chose Danish Cheese Pockets from Bake!, Nick Malgieri’s recent book. The recipe calls for a half recipe of Quick Danish Pastry Dough. Rather than making a half recipe or freezing some of the dough, I decided to make two recipes — one of cheese pockets and another with cherry filling made from homemade cherry jam a friend of mine gave me.

After making the pastry dough, I  mixed up the cream cheese filling.

Isn't the sugar-coated egg yolk cool?


I rolled out the dough, cut it into squares, topped it with filling, and shaped the Danish.

I did the same with the cherry Danish, making some just cherry and some cheese and cherry.

After shaping the Danish, I preheated the oven. While the oven was heating, I brushed the tops of the Danish with egg wash and sprinkled them with sliced almonds.

I baked the pastries at 400°F for about 20 minutes, until they were puffed and golden.

Even though most of the Danish came apart on top, they were still delicious. The cream cheese ones were as good as any cheese Danish I’ve ever tasted.

And the cherry and cherry-cheese ones were even better.

I had planned to take most of the Danish to work, but by the time Monday rolled around, there weren’t very many left. The Danish I did take to the office disappeared with lightning speed. One person asked me for the recipe. The rest asked me to make more Danish and bring them in.

Savory Cheese and Chive Bread (FFwD)

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a quick bread which, Dorie promised, would take no more than 10 minutes to whip up. As it turns out she was right. This bread came together lightning fast, all the more so since I used shredded cheese.

OK, so this was an expensive bag of cheese. But it was worth it to have a Gruyère and Emmentaler blend for this and other recipes. And I might just make some fondue out of it, too.

As the name implies, this is a savory bread studded with cheese and fresh herbs. The recipe calls for Gruyère and snipped chives, but you could make it with nearly any combination of cheese and herbs, or even some fruit or meat, if you were so inclined. Once you have the basic recipe down, the possibilities are endless.

To make the bread, I mixed the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another and folded them together. I stirred in the cheese (shredded and cubed) and chives, then scraped the batter into a pan.

I baked the loaf in a 350°F oven for 35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center came out clean.

I cooled the loaf for about 20 minutes before slicing. It was still warm, and the cheese in the center was melty, gooey, and delicious.

Even though the chives appear fairly sparse, their flavor dominated this bread. It was savory and quite tasty, but I wish the flavor of the cheese had been a bit more prominent. I will probably use the same cheeses next time, but might opt for a more mildly flavored herb.

Leek and Potato Soup {FFwD}

This week for French Fridays with Dorie, I made Leek and Potato Soup. This soup is simple, delicious, versatile, and comforting. It’s easy to throw together — once you chop some onions, garlic, leeks, and a potato, all you have to do is put it all together. There are quite a few variations suggested in the recipe, and you could easily come up with many more, making this a great recipe to have in your repertoire, as the possibilities are endless.

This soup is perfect for wintry weather days, but it can also be served cold in the spring or summer. And it can be served chunky, smooth, or somewhere in between. If you can’t find a variation of this soup that you like, you don’t like soup.

To assemble the soup, I began by cooking onion, shallots (my addition), and garlic in butter over low heat. I added leeks, potato, thyme, sage, chicken broth, and milk, and seasoned with salt and white pepper.

I brought the soup to a boil, lowered the heat, covered the pan partway, and simmered the soup for 40 minutes, until the vegetables were soft. I decided to purée the soup in the pot with my immersion blender. I left a few chunks in it, but for the most part, it was smooth.

After ladling the soup into a bowl, I topped it with freshly ground black pepper and white truffle oil and served it with Irish brown bread made with Irish wholemeal flour from King Arthur Flour.

This soup is easy enough to make on a busy weeknight, versatile enough that you can probably make it with ingredients you have on hand, and so delicious that you will want to make it again and again.

Orange & Almond Scones {Bake!}

I had the pleasure of meeting Nick Malgieri a few weeks ago and taking a few classes from him. On the first evening, he featured recipes and techniques from his newest book, Bake! I had just picked up the book a few days before the class, so I hadn’t had a chance to make anything from it. But watching Nick bake, I knew it had been a good purchase.

When my friend Kayte mysteriously received a copy of Bake! in the mail, return address Nick Malgieri, New York, she was excited to start baking from it. So we decided to do a Twitterbake, where we would both bake the same recipe at the same time and Tweet about it as we went. Kayte chose Orange & Almond Scones, which sounded perfect to me. I’m a big scone fan, and these looked great. We had our recipe, picked a time, and were good to go.

The recipe calls for almond paste. Although I had never baked with almond paste before, there are a few recipes I’m making soon that call for it. And after some searching, I had recently acquired my first-ever can of Solo Almond Paste. In the process of searching for almond paste and realizing how expensive it is, I had also found a few recipes to make it. So, the evening before the Twitterbake, I made two versions of almond paste. I liked the egg white version better, so that’s what I decided to use for the scones.

The scones are very simple to make. After mixing flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the food processor, I whirred in the almond paste, then the butter. I beat an egg with milk and orange zest, added that to the food pro, and gave it a few pulses. Then I dumped the whole thing out onto a floured board, divided the dough in half, and shaped each piece into a disk. I scored the dough, gave it a little egg wash, pressed on some slivered almonds, and it was ready to bake.

As simple as they were, these scones came out great. I’m going to serve them when my family comes to town for Thanksgiving and make them again for Christmas morning.

From the recipes I’ve sampled from this book so far, I highly recommend it. If you do pick up a copy, let me know. Kayte and I are planning to make a few recipes from it each month, and if you’d like to bake and Tweet along with us, we’d love to have you.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins {ModBak}

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about the Quick Breads section of The Modern Baker is that the breads really are quick. For example, in the 15 minutes it took to bake the ginger scones, I mixed up the butterscotch scones and had them ready to go into the oven as soon as the ginger scones came out.

So even though I usually save my baking for the weekends, the other night after work I decided to throw together Irish soda bread muffins. I got back from walking the dog at 7:30 was relaxing in my chair by 7:50, having mixed up the muffins and cleaned the kitchen. Yes, kids, when Nick Malgieri says “quick”, he means it!

This simple recipe consists of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, caraway seeds, unsalted butter, sugar, egg, buttermilk (I substituted buttermilk powder and half-and-half), and currants. After assembling the ingredients, I lined the muffin tin with paper liners and preheated the oven to 350° F.

Next, I mixed the dry ingredients (other than the sugar) in a bowl, then whisked the butter and sugar in a separate bowl. I mixed in the egg, then half the cream, half the flour mxture, then the rest of the cream. I tossed the currants with a little flour, added them to the batter, then folded in the rest of the flour.

I found that an ice cream scoop was the perfect size to fill the muffin tins. I baked the muffins for 30 minutes, then cooled them in the pan.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this was another wonderful recipe. The muffins were delicious — slightly sweet and very flavorful. I especially enjoyed them with a little butter and fig preserves.

« Older entries