Tags: baking, Berries, berry swirl cake, blackberries, Cake, Dannon yogurt, Greek Yogurt, pound cake, raspberries, Yogurt
Yes, that’s an equation, an equation for something that just might blow your mind. It blew mine.
Before we moved from Manhattan to the town I grew up in, we spent a few years in another town while our new house was being renovated. We lived in a huge apartment complex surrounded by vast, beautiful meadows, streams filled with tadpoles, froggies, fish, and all things cool to a curious, young, nature loving girl. I won’t regale you with the huge highway overpass that roared above us over the parking lot, or the main roadway with a constant barrage of passing cars less than a mile away. Instead, I will keep us in the place where nature loomed and bloomed with not much time left.
My fondest memory of this garden apartment complex of Eden, nestled within the asphalt, was the wild blackberry and raspberry bushes hidden in one small area tucked between the pussy willows, cattails, and thick brush. We would sit in the middle of this circle of bushes and pick plump, juicy, berries for hours, our lips, fingers and shirts stained purple and red. I took this for granted. Surely there’s wild bushes like this everywhere, right? When we moved into our new house, I figured I’d have a whole backyard of them!
Unfortunately, the beautiful meadows and streams were eventually mowed down to build a modern, state -of-the art high school and more apartment complexes, but we were already moving out when this began. Once we moved into our new home, I forgot about wild berry bushes. I loved cooking, but basic stuff since I was too young to think about or dabble in preparations calling for berries, outside of fresh berries topped with cream.
Cut to several years later. Once I hit the big 1-4, I’m baking and cooking on a pretty regular basis, thanks to a few cookbooks gifted to me by my grandmother. Within a year or two, I’m inhaling all cookbooks like oxygen, pouring through gourmet magazines, reading a few chapters of Larousse Gastronomique nightly, and watching hours upon hours of Jacques Pepin showing me every cooking technique known to man (at that time). I watched numerous cooking shows, but Jacques was the man.
I was falling madly in love with all things food, all things sweet and savory, all things plated and lovely.
This food exploration renewed my intense love of two berries with a deep fervor, two berries that I used to hang with and know very well, raspberries and blackberries. I wanted to bake with them, cook with them, make sauces with them, jam them, jelly them, you name it. However, no wild and free berry bushes to be found. My berry passion led to many trips to the market, but was diluted with pints of mediocre, somewhat squashed berries in plastic containers with holes. If I didn’t act quick, they’d morph into plastic containers of white, green or gray fuzz, forgotten in the back of my refrigerator fruit bin.
You never know how good you had it until you want to cook and bake with it.
Like snowflakes, no two berry swirl cakes are alike
Cut to present. A friend of mine attended a wedding in Seattle last summer. One morning he called at the end of his daily workout and run. As he was walking through the parking lot of the hotel he was staying at, he let out an audible ‘wow’ type of gasp. He told me there were tons of wild blackberry bushes around the parking lot, loaded with some of the biggest blackberries he’d ever seen. He took a photo with his cell and sent it to me. I let out an audible ‘wow’ type of gasp as I listened to him eat those gorgeous berries in the photos.
“Wow, theesh are the jooshiest blackberriesh I’fe ever tayshted in my life!” He exclaimed, his mouth full of berries, pissing me off jussst a little because I wanted a bush to pick off of!
This was one of the photos he sent me. Nice lookin’ Seattle wild blackberries!
The rest of his trip led to occasional phone calls and texts about how wherever he went, there were always blackberry bushes close by.
I contemplated a permanent move to Seattle, but only for a second. Although it’s an awesome city in a beautiful and bountiful state, I need a little more sunshine in my life. My ‘Seattle Me’ image contained tons of buckets in lieu of a purse, picking blackberries from every bush I saw, so much so that I would have to balance an extra bucket on my head, not unlike the Chiquita chick and her naners.
My history with yogurt is a bit different. Okay, a bit is an understatement.
I hated it.
Yogurt, to me, was a bunch of annoying, little plastic containers that dominated our fridge since my mother ate it every.single.day. They would come tumbling out and hit the floor while I was reaching for sandwich fixings or pudding cups, some cracking open on impact – white, fruity goo all over the floor. I would actually gag while I was cleaning it up. I hated, Hated, HATED how it smelled.
“How could she eat this crap?”, I’d mutter faintly under my breath while cleaning up the mess.
Don’t let these skinny swirls of berry fool you, because…..
My freshman year of college, there was a little truck on campus one day that was just giving yogurt away – Dannon yogurt. One late night, craving something sweet, but nothing but our free Dannon haul in our mini-fridge, I had no choice but to confront my yogurt demons. I was so hungry, I didn’t care..I was going to eat it. One spoonful and BOOM, an explosion of creamy and tangy with sweet strawberries swirled throughout, sort of like pudding or custard, and I love puddings and custards.
Yogurt, why did I hate you so for so long?
Well, now I’m obsessed, and I eat a container almost every day, and bake with it quite often. As mentioned above, it’s in this cake, the Greek style, which has been my new favorite for a while now.
When I decided to take advantage of an abundance of gorgeous, plump blackberries and raspberries I found at the farmer’s market, I started with a blackberry swirl pound cake recipe I’d bookmarked at Martha Stewart’s site (wow, Martha is making a lot of appearances on my blog as of late).
Naturally, I wasn’t going to leave raspberries out and, of course, I was probably going to change something. That something was my former foe, yogurt, yogurt instead of the sour cream called for. I had the urge to experiment, and I did, I mixed each berry puree with some of the cake batter prior to swirling them in, hoping for the best. Wow, this gave me thick ribbons of berry, instead of thin strips of berry, within the cake, exactly what I was hoping for. Success!
Make this cake..I promise you will love it, even if you don’t like berries and/or yogurt. I converted someone who hated both, that’s how good it is.
….when you mix some of the batter into the berry purees before spooning it on and swirling it into the batter, then cut into a slice vertically, this is what you get. Thick ribbons of berry.
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan (or ½ cup neutral oil, like canola or coconut)
- 3 ounces blackberries (about a scant ¾ cup)
- 3 ounces raspberries (about a scant ¾ cup)
- 1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup Greek Yogurt, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; then butter parchment. In a food processor, puree blackberries with 1 tablespoon sugar. Wipe out processor and puree raspberries with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Pour/scrape into separate bowls and set aside (you can strain them into the bowls if you don't like the light bite of seeds that do not break down). In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter (or oil) and 1¼ cups sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with Greek yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
- Stir two to three tablespoons of the cake batter into the bowl with the blackberry puree until uniform. Stir two to three tablespoons of the cake batter into the bowl of raspberry puree, until uniform.
- Pour half the plain batter into the pan and dot with ½ of the blackberry puree -batter and half the raspberry puree-batter. It will seem like it takes over all the plain cake batter, but don't worry, it all works out in the end. Swirl/marble lightly using a skewer or knife. Top with remaining plain batter and dot with remaning raspberry and blackberry batter as you did with the first layer. Again, swirl the puree-batter mixes into the plain batter - pushing a skewer or knife all the way to the bottom for a full marble.
- Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1¼ hours. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before
Tags: baking, Berry Mousse, blackberries, Chef Dennis, Chocolate, Entremet, Ganache, Giveaway, giveaway winners, Guest Post, hazelnuts, More Than a Mountfull, Panna Cotta, raspberries
Hi everyone, hope you all had a great Memorial Day Weekend! Summer is here and the time is right..for dancing..in…the…STOP ME. OK, to let’s get to the good stuff. A few weeks ago, Chef Dennis of A Culinary Journey, asked if I could do a guest post Friday on his blog. Could I? You bet I could! There wasn’t even the slightest hesitation. just “Yep, yes, definitely” kind of reply.
I’ve known Dennis for 6 months now, and outside of being a terrific person, he’s an amazing chef and a wealth of information, help and knowledge to food bloggers all over the world wide web. His blog is phenomenal – you get beautiful and tasty food, all kinds of links and tutorials to help food bloggers find their way around sites such as Foodbuzz, blog etiquette, using social media for your blog etc..just loads and loads of information for food bloggers. He also has a fantastic ‘Ask Dennis’ feature that I read regularly and look forward to.
I sort of wracked my brain through what I was going to make. It ran the gamut from banana verrines to a savory, layered torta milanese (coming soon) which I love. Whal I wanted it to be was something incredibly decadent with a bit of ‘Wow’ factor.
That being said, obviously you’ve noticed these cute, little cakes. Well, this is what I made for my guest post. They’re Chocolate Panna Cotta – Berry Mousse Cakes with Toasted Hazelnut Ganache. Of course there’s a side of disaster along with the cakes. It seems to have become an ever-presen part of my cooking/baking these days! If you’d like to read about it and get the recipe, head on over to Dennis’ blog and see it HERE. You might even see Brian Boitano skating on the cake.
Now..what most of you have eagerly been waiting for (well…sporadically waiting for, maybe?) The winners of my three year blogging anniversay giveaway.
First off, I’d like to say it was fun reading what you eat at sporting events. The most popular were hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn and the beverages of choice, diet pepsi and beer. Funnel cakes, boiled peanuts, cotton candy, garlic fries (YUM), hot pretzels with mustard etc..Siobhan brings a stash of peanut butter to dip her popcorn in! Love it!
I figure I’d start with the two 14- piece cake decorating sets, and then work my way down to the 55 piece pastry tube set and food colors.
The first winner of the first 14-piece cake set is, random Number 75 (can’t post the random integer photo because WordPress suddenly started bugging and won’t let me scroll bneath any other photo I post). Number 75 is Aparna E of notmyleaf.com! Congrats, Aparna! Will send you an email to get your info so I can send it out asap.
The winner of the second 14 piece cake set is random Number 131. Number 131 is Amelia Zwiebel. Congrats, Amelia! Sending you an email to get your info so I can send it right out.
And now the winner of the Ateco 55 piece pastry tube set and 12 bottles of food gel colors. The winner is random Number 9. Number 9 is, wow, Katrina from In Katrina’s Kitchen! She’s definitely going to put these to good use..check out her blog! Katrina, I’m sending you an email so I can get your info and mail it right out to you!
Congratulations to all three winners. If someone does not respond to their emails within 72 hours, I will be choosing another winner for that prize, so stay tuned all, just in case!
Don’t forget to check out my guest post at A Culinary Journey Until next time, have a great weekend, all!
Tags: Baking with Julia, blackberries, blueberries, brown sugar, chiffon cake, chocolate sauce, granola, nuts, phyllo, raspberries, raspberry coulis, sorbet, streusel, sundae, Upside down cake, whipped cream
It’s been extremely hot and humid here in NYC, on and off for the past couple weeks, so I haven’t done much baking, much less cooking in general. I had a million ideas I wanted to try, but even though the Central Air was on full blast, the humidity just seeps through the walls..no matter how thick they are. Due to that, baked goods never seem to turn out as they should, especially anything containing beaten egg whites!
When the humidity finally broke, I was out perusing the Farmer’s Market at Union Square, and came across an abundance of gorgeous berries. The raspberries, blueberries and blackberries were spectacular, so I couldn’t resist getting several pints of each. Imagine my surprise when I checked to see what the Sugar High Friday’s, run by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess, and hosted by Susan of Foodblogga this month, theme was. It was BERRIES! Talk about perfect timing! With my plump and juicy berries just waiting to be used, I toggled some different ideas through my head, and finally decided on an old standby I’ve been baking for years. It’s an Upside Down Nectarine Cake with an amazing nutty, ‘granola like’ streusel baked into the center of the cake, created by Mary Bergin, for the PBS series and book ‘Baking with Julia’ by Dorie Greenspan. However, being one to ‘rarely’ follow a recipe to a T, I always changed certain flavors and fruits, and added or subtracted to the original recipe, depending on what was in season, and what I, or others close to me, were craving or in the mood for. In this case it would be, yep..you guessed it, berries.
This recipe calls for a chiffon cake, which as most know, contains no butter, but a whole lot of beaten egg whites which are folded into a base of egg yolks, sugar, oil, flour, leavens, salt, and whatever extract or extracts the recipe calls for. Lo and Behold, as I was arranging the berries over the gooey and luscious amalgamation of brown sugar and butter in the pan, even going as far as pushing a blueberry into each raspberry to enhance the topping aesthetically, the HUMIDITY returned in full force. Due to the this, I couldn’t get the egg whites to the perfect soft peak stage to fold into the cake batter. After many unsuccessful and pointless attempts to remedy this (Weather-1 Lisa-0), I ended up folding them in as is, with liquid seeping out from what meager peaks I’d produced. I poured it off, but knew deep down it wasn’t going to cut it, and unless the humidity suddenly subsided, there was no point in starting over.
Obviously, this resulted in a far from perfect, somewhat dense and flat cake, instead of the light and fluffy cake I usually get, the lovely strip of streusel just about disappearing beneath the mess of berries, since there was not enough height in the cake to showcase it. To add insult to injury, my perfect wheel of berries, blue in red, surrounded by circles of juicy blackberries, turned into a mess of purple-blue goo as it sat out on the counter to cool. Not to mention, I accidentally used too much butter on the bottom of the pan, so I also ended up with some lovely globules of solidified fat in between the bluish goo. Oh YUM!
That said, don’t let my struggle with the weather turn you off to trying this recipe. As I mentioned above, I’ve been using it for years, with perfect results. If you buy the book, or know someone who has it, just substitute berries for the nectarines, and light brown sugar for the dark brown sugar. Serve it with creme fraiche or lightly sweetened whipped cream.
OK, ONLY due to the work I put into the cake..I must honor it a bit by posting a few photos.
OK..now I have to come up with something new for Sugar High Fridays. Wait a second, it’s hot and humid…what better than some ‘berrylicious’ ice cream or sorbet? The most humidity could do to ice cream or sorbet, is melt it, but when put together right before serving, the evil muggy monster CANNOT destroy my dessert! I decided to use some of the phyllo I had left from a chicken phyllo dish I made last week, to make berry sorbet sandwiches.
Well, it seems that evil muggy monster prevailed after all. When I opened the package of phyllo, some of the edges of the phyllo were practically glued together, making it absolutely impossible to get the amount of full sheets I needed, without tearing. YIKES..time to rethink this. Suddenly, I recalled a Gale Gand recipe where she sliced the roll of phyllo into fettuccine like strips, mounded them on a pan, spattered each mound with butter and sugar, then baked them…using them to sandwich vanilla ice cream and fruit. Thank goodness, I was saved! I rolled the phyllo back up in the paper, and started slicing away, any ‘gluey’ pieces, discarded. I ended up with a nice, fluffy bunch of separate phyllo strips aka fettuccine. I portioned the bunch of strips into 12 separate mounds, spattered with butter and sugar, but also added some ground almonds to each, for extra crunch and flavor.
For the filling..and the very berry part, I put together a luscious homemade triple berry sorbet, with a little Grand Marnier added, to keep it slightly soft and melt-in-your-mouth smooth, then lightly crushed and cut up some of the fresh berries and added those to the sorbet mixture, for texture, more flavor, and of course, it didn’t hurt aesthetically. The mixture was then chilled until it was ready to be churned and frozen in my ice cream maker. A drizzle of rich chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis, some dark brown sugar ‘softly’ whipped cream, and I had my SHF entry, Triple Berry Sorbet-Phyllo ‘Sundae’ Towers.
Phyllo ‘Fettuccine’ Nests adapted from Gale Gand in ‘Baking with Julia’ by Dorie Greenspan
- 1 half 16 oz box phyllo, thawed (1 8 oz roll)
- 1/2 cup melted butter, or clarified butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup finely ground almonds
Preheat oven to 400 F
1. Remove the phyllo from the box and bag (leave the paper around the roll). Place the roll on a cutting board and slice into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices.
2. Toss the cut phyllo to separate the strips and remove the paper. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and make nests of the strips about 3 inches in diameter. Spatter with the melted butter (if you brush it on, it flattens the fluffy ‘fettuccine’ strips into one uniform mound, which you don’t want) and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp ground almonds per nest. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. If not using immediately, let cool, then store in an airtight container, stacked between sheets of parchment or wax paper, for up to 2 days.
Makes 12 ‘nests’
Triple Berry Sorbet
- 1 1/2 pints fresh raspberries * **
- 1/2 pint fresh blackberries* **
- 1/2 pint fresh blueberries* **
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau, or a berry liqueur such as Kirsch or Framboise (optional).
- Extra berries, whole, chopped or crushed to add to the sorbet prior to freezing, the amount depending on personal preference.
1. Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until the sugar dissolves completely and is clear and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Do NOT overcook, as you don’t want caramel. Remove from heat, and let cool (I like to pour it into a glass measuring cup).
2. In a blender or food processor, puree the raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Pour the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on the solids with a spoon or spatula to remove as much liquid as possible (do not push the seeds through). Discard the seeds and solids.
3. Stir the cooled sugar syrup into the puree.. Add the lemon juice, and orange or berry liqueur (if using). Stir or crush in extra berries. Chill in the refrigerator until cold then freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the sorbet to a container. Cover tightly and place in the freezer until ready to use, at least 5 hours.
You can also pour the cooled sorbet into a bowl or loaf pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and freeze in the freezer, although I highly prefer and recommend using an ice cream maker, as the texture won’t be as soft and fluffy.
* You should have approximately 5-7 cups of mixed berries
**3 cups of fresh berries is about the equivalent to one 12-oz. bag frozen berries, thawed. Both fresh and frozen in those amounts, pureed and strained, yield 2 cups puree.
- 7 oz of good quality chocolate, chopped (milk, semisweet, or bittersweet – your preference)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1. Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl
2. Heat heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil, then pour into bowl over chopped chocolate. Let sit for several minutes, then stir until uniform, smooth and silky. If you aren’t using it immediately, it will firm up a little. Just reheat over a low flame or in the microwave for a few seconds.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 lb (8 oz) fresh raspberries, or half of one 12 ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed
- 1 teaspoon Kirsch, Framboise, or Chambord (optional)
1. Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until the sugar dissolves completely, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
2. Place the raspberries and the sugar syrup in a blender and puree. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the solids and seeds (discard those), then stir in the lemon juice, and the Kirsch, Framboise or Chambord, if using. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes about 3/4 cup of coulis.
Brown Sugar Whipped Cream (I like to place the bowl and beaters in the freezer prior to whipping the cream, so it whips up quicker).
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons lightly packed dark brown sugar
1. Pour heavy cream into the chilled bowl, along with the brown sugar.
2. Whip until you get soft peaks. Don’t go any further than that, as you want a soft, very slightly ‘flowing’ cream.
Berry Skewers loosely adapted from Gale Gand in Baking with Julia By Dorie Greenspan
- 4 wooden skewers, 10-12 inches in length
- 8 raspberries
- 8 blueberries
- 8 blackberries
- 1/4 cup of the raspberry coulis
Gently mix berries with the coulis, then slide two of each berry, alternating them, onto each skewer.
To serve, place a dollop of the whipped cream on four separate dessert plates. Place a phyllo nest on top of the whipped cream to secure it. Place another dollop of whipped cream on top of the phyllo nest, then a quenelle or scoop of the berry sorbet on top of the whipped cream. Top with another phyllo nest, then another dollop of whipped cream, the quenelle or scoop of berry sorbet, and finally one more phyllo nest (3 per tower). Take a berry skewer and spear it through the middle of the stack. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the whole stack, letting it fall wherever it may on the plate. Drizzle some of the raspberry coulis around the plate, and serve with the brown sugar whipped cream and extra chocolate sauce on the side.
Unfortunately, in conjunction with my lack of expertise in photography (only one photo showcased the tower as it should be, prior to morphing into the Leaning Tower of Lisa, and just my luck, it was dullest and least focused/sharp of them all, as you can see directly below this paragraph), the towers started to melt and sink into a massacre of sorbet and sauces as I was taking photos, which you can plainly see in the closeup photo, following the aforementioned blurry ones. Putting it in the freezer and trying to ‘fix’ it didn’t work out very well. However, when putting these together for service, they won’t sit around long enough to melt or keel over, and will look beautiful when presented to your guests or customers..the only melting and keeling over occurring when they dig in, and the sorbet melts on their palates.
Note -Sometimes it’s tough to get the towers to remain upright, even with the skewers through them, due to the weather and/or the smooth but icy, slippery/melty texture of the sorbet. If you have any problems, just make a berry sorbet sandwich using only two nests of phyllo, and one large scoop of sorbet, along with all the ‘fixins’. In this case, you’ll get 6 servings.
This recipe makes 4 individual sundae towers, although two people can share one, as there is more than enough on each plate for that. Not to mention, you can feel less guilty about splurging. Remember, the berry sorbet IS fat-free! 😉