I’ve made cornbread lots of times. And, have a great recipe for big giant fluffy biscuits. But when I made a white chicken chili a couple of weeks ago I just didn’t feel like either of those breads were going to be just right to serve up alongside the chili. I went searching for some combination of the two and found this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. I just love those guys. I don’t know what it is about the super detailed scientific reasoning behind food but it totally works for me. These babies are a perfect blend of cornbread and biscuits.
My guiltiest of guilty pleasures is cheesecake. I find it completely irresistible. It is the one dessert I absolutely cannot say no to. There are lots of cheesecake recipes floating around on Bakerlady, but I’ve never posted the classic New York Cheesecake recipe I absolutely adore. It’s from America’s Test Kitchen, who I always turn to for great tested recipes that turn out perfectly the first time, and every time. The secret to a great New York style cheesecake that’s dense with a suede texture is lots and lots of cream cheese and a low and slow baking method.
I can honestly tell you that this recipe was a present for me. From God. No joke. Let me explain. Some lovely people I know just got married. A few days before the wedding I agreed to help out by making a giant cupcake for them to cut into for the smash-cake-in-your-face moment at the wedding. The bride wanted a strawberry cake, but every single recipe I could find used strawberry flavored Jello in it. I’m sure the Jello cakes would have been fine, but the color just seemed too fakey pink given that the bottom of the cake wasn’t going to be frosted.
I searched for several hours and couldn’t find anything that looked good enough for me to use. Frustrated, I went to bed. The next morning in my Twitter feed was a post from America’s Test Kitchen that said “Yes, strawberry cake without Jello is possible with our Strawberry Dream Cake”. (pick my jaw up off the floor) Are you kidding me? I made the recipe that day as a test. It was very good, but a little denser than I wanted. I decided I could make life a lot easier on myself by bumping up the strawberry portion and using a white boxed cake mix as the base. The result was a light deliciously strawberry cake that took only a little more effort than a basic boxed mix. I’ve included both recipes for you. The resulting color is very pale pink and lovely. Since I was taking this to a wedding, you only get photos of the outside.
The cake mix variety I turned into cupcakes to taste test before the wedding and thought I’d share a very important tip with you. Do not frost cupcakes when they are still warm. Do. Not. Do. Not! It does not matter how good you are at frosting techniques, you will fail if the cupcakes are even a little bit still warm. Blame it on the delicious smell, I couldn’t wait. I wanted to try them! I used a new crusting buttercream frosting, added the pressed out strawberry solids from the cake instead of the water called for & adjusted with powdered sugar to get the right consistency. It tasted like strawberry ice cream. Delicious. You can just add the pressed strawberry solids to your favorite buttercream (or cream cheese) frosting. Pat them dry first though, moisture and frosting don’t go well together. Warm cupcakes and frosting don’t go together either. See?
Strawberry Dream Cake
a Bakerlady Original
1 box of white (or vanilla, french vanilla) cake mix
3 cups frozen whole strawberries
eggs & oil called for on back of boxed mix
1/2 cup of whole milk
1. Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least 1 cup); reserve strawberry solids. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/2 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk into juice until combined.
2. Prepare cake mix as directed on box. Substitute milk and strawberry mixture for water called for. The boxed mix I used called for 1 cup of water. So I used 1/2 cup strawberry puree and 1/2 cup of milk. Adjust these amounts based on your box mix directions. Bake according to box directions and size of pan you’re using.
3. Top with your favorite buttercream (or cream cheese) frosting – add the reserved strawberry solids after patting them dry for an extra burst of strawberry.
Strawberry Dream Cake
from America’s Test Kitchen
- 10 ounces frozen whole strawberries (2 cups)
- 3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
- 1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment, grease parchment, and flour.
2. Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least 3/4 cup); reserve strawberry solids. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk into juice until combined.
3. Whisk strawberry milk, egg whites, and vanilla in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute. Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give batter final stir by hand.
4. Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and cool completely, about 2 hours. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
Are you a crust or filling person? Pie eaters (I’ve found) fall into one of these two distinct categories. Those who tolerate the crust as a means for getting gorgeous amazing delicious filling into their mouths. And those who believe a flaky light crust absolutely is the best thing about pie. That the filling is plays second fiddle and is really only there because you can’t just eat pie crust on its own.
The fact that you need something else to go with crust is one of the reasons I am a filling girl. You can totally gobble fruity (or custardy) filling with a spoon. It needs no other accoutrement to make it delicious. My husband is all about the crust.
Personally I’ll take a crumble or a cobbler any day over pie. More filling, less crust. Thankfully this blueberries and cream pie gives us both a little something we love. And that makes everyone happy.
On the bottom, a flaky buttery crust.
Filled with blueberries. You know what’s awesome about blueberries? No chopping, cutting seeds out, coring, or peeling. Give em’ a rinse and in they go. Perfect.
Topped with an amazing creamy custard.
The custard is just divine.
Finished with a crumb streusel.
Seriously delicious food here people. All those bright fresh berries swimming in sweet rich custard? Yeah. The crust is bomb too. But the filling…ooooooh the filling. It’s the perfect blend of a cream pie and a succulent fruity cobbler. Glorious summer goodness.
As a side note. When I served this up for dessert I discovered the mystery of genetics explained on my children’s plates. Madison ate her crust first and after a few bites of the filling declared she was full. Donovan devoured the fruity custard and left his crust untouched. When he proclaimed he was stuffed Madison lept at the opportunity to eat his abandoned crust. Go figure.
Blueberries and Cream Pie
adapted from Gingerbread Bagels
Pie Crust (from America’s Test Kitchen)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/4-inch
pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4-6 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water (for egg wash)
3 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg (about 1/16th teaspoon)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
Process flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add chilled shortening and pulse until coarsely ground. Add chilled butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl.
Sprinkle 4 tablespoons water over flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, stir mixture until dough forms. If dough remains crumbly, add remaining 1 tablespoon water. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (Dough can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic and aluminum foil, for up to 2 months. Thaw completely at room temperature before using.)
Let chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature, about 10 minutes. Working on lightly floured work surface, roll dough into 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to pie plate. Trim, fold, and crimp edges. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
While crust is firming up, work on the filling. In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the sugar and flour. Add in the sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Take the pie out of the freezer and put the blueberries on the bottom of the crust. Pour the filling over the blueberries and spread it out.
Now make the crumb topping. Mix together the sugar, brown sugar, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Pour the melted unsalted butter into the bowl and mix everything together. Add in the flour and mix until the ingredients form a crumble topping. Crumble the crumb topping over the pie.
Mix together 1 large egg and a Tablespoon of water and brush over the edge of the crust.
Bake the pie at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Let the pie cool before cutting into slices. Then enjoy!
Granola bars are practically required for camping. Usually I just purchase the standard crunchy kind in the green box. But, as I was making my grocery list and going thru cookbooks, I saw this recipe and realized I had everything to make these already in my cupboard. Homemade, I’d have control of the ingredients and they’d be a whole lot less expensive than buying a couple boxes. Double win! These are a great healthy snack packed with oats and nuts. Lightly sweetened with honey and brown sugar they are crunchy, filling and delicious. Continue reading
Baseball equals s’mores. Bear with me. I swear my thoughts make logical sense in my head. I’ll try to help you keep up. Today, I went outside because I saw a bright yellow orb in the sky. I had to find out what it was. The sun! Fantastic! My husband used the opportunity to teach our son how to catch a ball. Thankfully, Zack is wise enough to start with a tennis ball instead of a baseball. Donovan need a little work on keeping his eye on the ball.
I have never tasted a better chocolate chip cookie than this recipe produces. They are chewy, soft, packed with rich flavor and bursting with chocolatey goodness. The recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen and utilizes melted butter and a unique shaping technique to produce craggy stay-soft oversized cookies. You will love them. Because the cookies cool on the still hot baking sheets, they will look a wee bit underdone when it’s time to remove them from the oven. Cook them just until the edges are golden. They’ll continue cooking on the residual heat of the pans and be perfect once cooled. Continue reading
I’ve had a go-to pancake recipe for a while that I love. My kids gobble them up, they come together quickly and I make dozens of batches thru the year. Today I was pondering what to do for dinner and (thanks to a breakfast for other meals conversation I had earlier in the day) I got the hankerin for a nice fluffy stack of hotcakes. I decided to deviate from my normal recipe mostly because I had some buttermilk in the fridge that needed to get used up. So, I pulled out my trusty America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) cookbook and got to work. Continue reading
At least according to my husband. Of all the cookies, cupcakes, muffins, breads, truffles, cakes, snacks and candies I make, this is the only item my husband loves. Actually, he says it’s the only cookie that matters. Everything else absolutely pales in comparison. In order to make amazing peanut butter cookies, you must include super extra chunk peanut butter and actual peanuts in the recipe. Really there is no other way. Although I’m generally not a fan of peanut butter cookies (I need my peanut butter to have chocolate with it), I make these for my honey – and call them “Zacharies”. It’s the least I can do. He puts up with all my other baking like a trooper. And as much as I think I don’t like plain peanutty cookies – every time I make these, I manage to eat a couple. Continue reading
This is a classic cookie. I’m sure you all have a version of this treat floating around in your recipe box somewhere. What makes mine special is a couple of ingredients and an unlikely baking method. First, I use dark brown sugar which gives a richer flavor to the cookie. Also, there’s real peanuts in the peanut butter cookie portion. Who would’ve guessed that would make such a taste difference? And, the chocolate kiss has a little heat added to make it truly memorable. Ultimately, they’re peanut butter and chocolate…does it get better than that? Continue reading