With the birth of our 3rd baby fast approaching I’m finding myself trying everyday to accomplish things that will make the transition easier. Having all the laundry cleaned and put away, keeping the kitchen well stocked (and relatively clean) for our older kids for when we’re in the hospital and someone else is watching them, washing newborn clothes for a girl and a boy, checking my hospital bag daily to be sure I haven’t forgotten anything, and going through my lists of baby names to narrow it down. But what do I decide is the most important? Making this coffee cake, of course. Baking is a great way to procrastinate, don’t you think?
So I put this together, baked it, and let it cool. No big deal. And I had a little corner of it in the evening before I went to bed. It was delicious. In the morning I cut myself another square for breakfast. Something wasn’t right. It seemed a little underbaked. I had baked it 5 minutes longer than instructed, so I was surprised. As I cut a little more into the center I saw that it was mostly raw goo. I was real bummed about it. I tried to save what I could around the edges, but then I had to do one of the hardest things a sweets loving girl can do. I had to scrape all of that goodness right into the trashcan. Heartbreaking.
Later in the day I restocked on blueberries, cream cheese, and butter and came home and did it all over again. Because I’d originally misread the ingredients and messed up the streusel topping I was glad to have a second chance at it. So I guess it was kind of a good thing that I underbaked it the first time? Regardless, I wound up with this lovely cake when all was said and done and that makes it all worth it.
This breakfast dish is delicious and quite decadent, but the blueberries make it good for you! It’s fruit! The berries also add a nice pop of color and a lovely tartness to each bite. The cream cheese filling is amazing, and the crunchy streusel topping is the perfect counterpart to the smooth cake and creamy filling. Enjoy!
Recently I made these blackberry pie bars again. The recipe is from Rebecca Rather’s cookbook The Pastry Queen. Buy it. This time around I found the bottom crust to be a little on the thick side, and there was an awful lot of filling. These bars are so substantial that they are best eaten from a plate with a fork. These are one of the best things you will ever put in your mouth. Ever. They are just really decadent and I thought it would be nice to have the same flavors, but in a bar that was a little easier to eat.
So, with some extra berries I decided to make the bars again with a thinner crust, and less filling. Since I only had a small bag of frozen blackberries I used a combination of blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. A total of 4 cups of any berries would do. As with the Pastry Queen’s recipe, thaw and drain any frozen berries that you’re using.
I found these bars to be much easier to just pick up and eat. There are tons of things you could do with these. Use different combinations of berries, maybe use peaches, add some ground pecans, almonds or walnuts to the crust and/or crumb topping or even play with spices…cinnamon, nutmeg, cardomom. Oh, the sweet and delicious possibilities! I might try a small batch in an 8×8 pan so that I can try more of these variations without having too many extra goodies around the house.
I find these to be extra special served with a small (or maybe a rather large) scoop of Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
Mixed Berry Bars
Adapted from Rebecca Rather’s Blackberry Pie Bars
Crust and Topping
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold butter, cup into cubes
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream, regular or light
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
4 cups berries (any combination you like, make sure to thaw and drain any frozen berries)
For the crust and topping:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Combine the flour,sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until fully combined. Add the butter to the flour mixture and process until the butter is evenly distributed,but the mixture is still crumbly.
Reserve 1 cup of the crumb mixture for the topping. Press the remaining crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes,or until it is golden brown. Cool for at least 10 minutes.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl,
Add the sour cream, flour and salt. Gently fold in the berries.
Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs evenly over the top.
Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour,or until the crust is lightly browned. Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.
These sweet little pastry packages are lovely. Pre-made puff pastry makes this a dessert that requires very little hard labor in the kitchen. Assembling these pastries is not exactly a breeze, but they are worth it.
I found this recipe hidden in Fine Cooking from August of 2010. It is the “Letter from the Editor” section that I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t seen the recipe in the index. The other fruit pies in this edition are so beautiful, but more time consuming since you make your own dough.
For me, this was a perfect dessert for our Sunday night dinner guests. I made them earlier in the day and stored them in the fridge until time to bake. I stuck them in the oven when we sat down to dinner, and they were done at the perfect time to enjoy them.
The recipe below is changed slightly from the original. The original recipe calls for creme de cassis, which I do not have on hand these days, and so I substituted almond extract with good results. I used low fat cream cheese, and cut smaller circles to make smaller pies. Unintentionally, I did not cut vents in my pastries. This probably caused more of the gooey insides to leak out, but they were still delicious. I served these with vanilla ice cream. The crunchy sugary tops are wonderful, and the combination of blueberry and cream cheese in the center reminds me of a grown up Toaster Strudel.
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pastries
2 17.3 ounce packages frozen puff pastry, thawed
4 ounces cream cheese (low-fat is fine) softened
7 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs yolks
1 cup blueberries
2 teaspoons cornstartch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, 4 tablespoons sugar, vanilla extract, and 1 egg yolk and mix until well combined.
Combine the blueberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, almond extract and salt and mix gently.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out individual puff pastry sheets into a 10 by 10 inch square.
Using a round cutter (3 1/2 inches to 4 inches) cut out 4-6 rounds from the pastry depending on the size of your cutter. Arrange the circles on a parchment lined baking sheet. (You will need 2 or 3 sheets)
In a small bowl, beat 1 egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the outer edges of each dough round with egg wash.
Dollop about 1/2 tablespoons cream cheese mixture in the center of the round, then top with about 1 tablespoon of blueberries.
Fold in half to form a half moon and pinch edges to seal. You may use the tines of a fork to seal as well.
Lightly brush each pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Cut a small steam vent in the top of each pastry.
Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes.
Cool slightly, then remove from the baking sheet.
Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with powdered sugar.
I made SmittenKitchen’s raspberry buttermilk cake a few weeks ago. The cake was so lovely that I decided to try it with some different additions. Since I had blueberries, half a bag of raw blanched almonds and a tube of almond paste already on hand…that’s what I used. The other ingredients in the cake are readily accessible in a bakers kitchen; 1 egg, 1/2 stick butter, sugar, flour, buttermilk (You can make your own!) baking soda, powder, salt and sugar. Easy.
Buttermilk Cake #1
The first cake I made was a blueberry almond cake and it was, in my opinion, incredibly delicious. Tart and juicy blueberries in a sweet, tender and moist cake with crunchy almond paste crumbs on top. The blueberries sank into the batter as it baked, but the almond paste stayed on top so it was able to get a little brown and crunchy. I sprinkled regular granulated sugar on top as well. I did not use lemon zest in the cake. I thought it might not combine well with the almond, but it would probably be great.
I get so worried about overcomplicating a dish that I tend toward simple flavors and fairly normal ingredients. If you want something crazy, make this. It grosses me out a bit, but my 7th grade Texas History teacher, Mr. Dennis, made this for us as a Christmas treat when I was in his class, and it was good…so maybe Velveeta cheese is better for more than Cheater Queso? If you’d like to make a bit more work of your queso…try this. After reading this post and drooling on my keyboard, I might have to try it as well.
Back to buttermilk…the possibilities are endless with this cake. This recipe is definitely one I will be experimenting with. It lends itself to fruit additions perfectly, but I would be willing to try chocolate pieces and various nuts as well. Pecans and walnuts would be tasty.
Buttermilk Cake #2
I absolutely love almond, so next I tried a cake with chopped almonds in the batter and a sprinkle of the almond paste on top as I did this last time. I used 1/3 white and 1/3 brown sugar in this cake, 2 ounces of chopped toasted almonds in the batter and about 2 ounces of crumbled almond paste on top.