July 23, 2020

Blueberry Crumb Bars

People sometimes ask where my baking inspirations come from and I wish I had a deeply profound or creative answer, but in truth often it's something as simple as timing.   That was exactly the naissance of why I made these Blueberry Crumb Bars.  Recently I was scrolling through Instagram and saw the bars posted on Smitten Kitchen's feed.   Fortuitously I had some blueberries in my fridge that were on their last leg.  See, it's all about the timing!

Although I only had enough blueberries to make half the recipe I didn't have any issues downsizing it into an 8-inch square pan.   It's also a win when you don't need any equipment to make the bars, just a bowl.  The recipe came together in no time at all.

For ease in cutting later on make sure you chill the bars in the fridge.  After photographing the bars for this blog I couldn't help myself and had to have a taste.  The first thing I noticed was the fresh burst of blueberry flavor, which actually made me think of pie but with a lot less work.  Anything with streusel is a win in my book and I like how the bars overall aren't too sweet. 

July 18, 2020

Scallion & Ham Bread

Scallion Bread is a staple item sold at most Chinese bakeries you come across.  My favorite place in San Francisco to get them is Sunset Bakery in the Inner Sunset District.   There they add bits of ham to their scallion buns which are, in my opinion, the ne plus ultra: incredibly delicious, super soft and beautifully browned.  Since they're so easy to buy I never really thought of making it at home, that is, until I saw this post on Healthy Nibbles blog.  Lisa's bread looked exactly like Sunset Bakery's so I had to give it a try for myself.

The dough uses tangzhong, or a roux made of milk and flour, which gives the baked bread a lovely, soft texture.  In my experience any bread using this technique always turns out amazing.  The main modifications I made to Lisa's recipe were to replace the water in the tangzhong with milk, use instant yeast and add pieces of chopped ham.  

I made the recipe twice in a week so trust me when I say it's a good one.  The first time I shaped the dough into a very large four-strand braid.  For the second I shaped it into smaller knots because I wanted individual portions.   You wouldn't believe how excited I was that the bread turned out completely authentic!   Another plus is that it freezes beautifully so I can enjoy this yummy treat anytime I want.

July 11, 2020


I've had leftover egg whites sitting in my fridge for a few weeks now and I finally got fed up looking at them and decided to make something.  But what?  Macarons would be the obvious choice but I was too lazy to deal with the lengthy process of making and piping the batter, the drying time and then filling the cookies.  I was after something quick, easy and delicious - cue the Financiers!

These little French almond cakes have a delicious nutty bite and texture and go perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea.  I used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated that was super easy to come together in one bowl.  The only "tedious" thing was to make the brown butter and that took no time at all. 

Normally the cakes are baked in rectangular molds so that they resemble gold bars, which is where the "financier" name comes from but not everyone has those specialty molds.  I like this version that uses a mini muffin pan.   The financiers were delicious plain but I jazzed mine up by topping them with fresh raspberries, blueberries and chocolate chunks. 

NOTE: You can make this gluten-free by replacing the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour.

July 5, 2020

Triple Berry Brita Cake

Rarely does a dessert exceed my expectations but I have to admit that this Triple Berry Brita Cake had me smitten at first bite.  I initially spotted this cake on Jenn Yee's Instagram and was immediately obsessed with the combination of cake and pavlova.   The recipe for this beauty comes from Susan Spungen's Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings and can be found online here.

Apparently brita cake has Nordic origins but in all the years I've visited Norway I don't think I've ever tasted it.  I can't believe what I was missing!  Pavlovas are one of my favorite summertime desserts so how excited was I find discover a dessert that added cake to the mix?  

This cake is so good that I actually made it twice in two days.  The first cake I brought along to a 4th of July BBQ and the second cake was to photograph for the blog, but I only made half the recipe which fit a loaf pan perfectly.  

I strayed slightly from the original recipe when it came to the cream toppings  I didn't have any creme fraiche so I increased the amount of heavy cream to a total of 2 cups and added some vanilje-sukker (vanilla sugar) that I picked up on previous trips to Norway.

The combination of moist, yellow cake and crispy meringue topped with fresh vanilla whipped cream and strawberries, blueberries and raspberries is absolutely amazing.  It's pure symphony I tell you!  It couldn't be easier to make so I highly encourage you to make this fruity dessert to really showcase summer's best berries.

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