Yield: 16 large cookies Recipe: 127/200 “Back to Baking”, pp. 46
Flour is once more abundant in my home. Well, not abundant but many pounds more than I had a few weeks ago. As such I have ramped up my baking once more and I was excited to try these raspberry, lemon and white chocolate rugelach. I had never heard of these Jewish delicacies, but I am very glad to have discovered them. These were truly one of the best cookies I have ever made. I say cookie, but truly they are more in between a cookie and a pastry. A cootry? A paskie? That sounds better.
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ package (4 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup raspberry jam
60 g (2 oz) white chocolate, cut in chunks, or ½ cup white chocolate chips
1 egg white, for brushing (optional, see notes)
These paskies smelled fantastic while baking, looked quite cute and tasted delicious. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I did not expect them to be that good. I don’t know why I thought this since raspberry and chocolate is a match made in heaven, so thankfully I was pleasantly surprised by the sweet yet not overly sweet pastry. Cookie. Not sure. Anna Olson proves once again that cream cheese is truly a secret weapon in pastry. The dough was perfectly flaky and just melted in the mouth with each bite. Truly a scrumptious treat to enjoy with some nice tea.
Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
Beat in the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest.
Add the flour and the salt and stir until the dough evenly comes together. Shape the dough into 2 discs, wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surfaced, roll out the first disc of dough into a circle about 12 inches (30 cm) across and just shy of ¼ inch thick. Trim away the rough edges.
Stir the raspberry jam to soften it, then stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Spread half of the jam over the surface of the dough, right to the edges. Sprinkle half of the white chocolate over the jam.
Cut the dough into 8 wedges, and roll up each cookie from the large edge to its point, very much like a croissant, and place the cookies one inch apart on the baking tray.
Repeat steps 5-7 with the second disc of dough.
Whisk the egg white until it is very foamy and brush each cookie with it.
Sprinkle the cookies generously with sugar.
Bake the rugelach for 20-25 minutes, until they are an even golden colour. Let the cookies cool on the tray before removing them to store.
Note from Anna:
These can be made egg-free by simply brushing the tops of the rolled cookies with milk in place of the egg white.
Yield: 16-25 squares Recipe: 125/200 “Back to Baking”, pp. 57
Forthe last dessert that I would make before gradually going back to work, I made these creamy lemon squares by popular, or should I say repeated but polite, requests. My boyfriend simply loves anything lemon so I wanted to make this for him before I left. However, my sister makes amazing lemon squares and he often talks about them and compares other (non-lemon) desserts to it, so the bar was set high! Due to this I almost expected to be defeated and not do The Lemon Square justice. Fortunately, as usual with Anna Olson’s recipes I need not worry.
Ingredients for base:
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces
Ingredients for cupcakes:
½ package (4 oz or 125 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup lemon juice
These lemon squares were fun to make and were simply scrumptious. Very nice shortbread base and a vibrant and rich lemon flavour to top it off. Even I, who likes but usually does not love lemon desserts, realized how delicious they were. The recipe requires to cut the dessert into 25 (5×5) or 36 (6×6) squares but I knew that that would not be an appropriate square dimension for us, so I cut them into 16 (4×4) squares and those seem to be the perfect size for a nice snack. We both really liked them and I am definitely keeping this recipe handy to be done again and again.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper, making sure that it comes up the sides of the pan.
To prepare the shortbread base, pulse together the flour and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is an even, crumbly texture. At this point the dough should not come together.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan an bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the base turns golden around the edges. As the crust cools, prepare the lemon layer.
In the food processor, pulse together the cream cheese with ½ cup of sugar, the flour, lemon zest and baking powder until the mixture is homogeneous.
Add the lemon juice and eggs, and blend until smooth, making sure to scrape down the side of the processor if necessary.
Pour the filling over the cooled crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges are set and just show signs of souffléing (rising a little bit higher than the centre). The centre should still have a bit of jiggle to it. Cool the squares at room temperature and then chill for at least 3 hours before slicing. Slices into 16, 25 or 36 squares, depending on how many times you want to get up to get another piece.
Yield: one 6-cup Bundt cake
“Back to Baking”, pp. 155
I have not been baking for a while and this weekend I really felt like making a cake, so I tried this recipe for a lemon and poppy seed cake. I love lemon-flavoured desserts and was not disappointed. This recipe is simple to make but the flavours are perfect: delicate but unmistakable. The cake is tasty yet light, and I noticed that people had no guilt when taking two or three pieces (as they shouldn’t!). If you like lemon desserts, this recipe is a must try!
Ingredients for cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
Ingredients for glaze:
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ cup icing sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 275°F. Grease and flour a 6-cup Bundt cake pan.
Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and zest until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture in two additions, mixing on low speed.
Stir in the poppy seeds and mix until homogenous. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 20 minutes, then increase the temperature of the oven to 325°F and bake for another 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan, then turn out the cake to cool completely.
For the glaze, whisk together the lemon juice and icing sugar until smooth and pour over the cake. Let the glaze set and enjoy!
Yield: one 9-inch cheesecake
“Back to Baking”, pp. 162
For the second cake that I had to (I don’t like baking at all, I was almost tortured!) make for my boyfriend since I lost a bet, he requested this European lemon cheesecake because, quite simply, he loves lemon and cheesecake, so the combination could only be delicious. The theory proved to be true! This cake was simple to make and although I genuinely had my reservations about this cheesecake due to the use of pressed cottage cheese (note: cottage cheese has always caused some slight disgust to me), it was excellent. Perhaps slightly too lemony for my taste, yet still highly enjoyable. The texture is perfect and similar to that of the classic cheesecake, but feels a bit fluffier and lighter. Essentially, this cheesecake eats itself and you don’t feel to guilty about doing it! Lemon lovers are sure to love this dessert.
Even though it was not expected for this European cheesecake, I did encounter the typical cheesecake problem of having a big crack develop in the middle. Since I did run a palette knife around the cake after taking it out of the oven and I let it cool completely before chilling it, the only other reason that I think may have caused the crack is that I may have over-whipped the egg whites. It may have been more of a stiff peak than a medium peak, which would have caused the eggs to deflate when the cake was cooling down. So be careful while whipping your eggs, but this is really the only sensitive step of the recipe. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform and coat it with sugar, making sure to tap out the excess.
Using a food processor or a hand mixer, blend the cottage cheese with ½ cup of the sugar.
Add the flour, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Blend well.
Beat in the egg yolks.
In a stand mixer or in a clean bowl using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until frothy, then pour in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, continuing to whip the whites until they hold a medium peak (the whites should curl just slightly when the beaters are lifted).
Fold the whites into the cheese mixture in two additions, then spread the cheesecake evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and bake for about 25 minutes more, until the top just begins to colour. Let the cheesecake cool completely to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours before slicing.
Notes from Anna:
To prevent a gaping crack to form in the middle of your cheesecake, the speed at which the egg whites are whipped is crucial. Whipped eggs will soufflé in the oven, but when the cheesecake starts cooling, those souffléd eggs will fall, thus creating a crack, even hours after the cheesecake is out of the oven. Make sure not to whip the egg whites too much.
Another tip to prevent cracks in the cheesecake is to run a palette knife around the inside edge of the springform pan, which allows to separate the cake from the pan. This way, if and when the cheesecake contracts, it will pull away from the sides of the pan, making it less likely to crack in the middle.
Yield: 16 cupcakes
“Back to Baking”, pp. 136
The holiday period is an excellent time to have company over, and indeed within two days we were having two different groups of friends over. I thought I would make some nice lemon cupcakes for the occasion, as there were several lemon dessert lovers amongst the guests. These cupcakes have a little something special since they are topped with a meringue that is hiding a delicious lemon curd filling. This recipe was straightforward and incredibly tasty. There was no subtleness in the lemon flavour! It was all there and these little cupcakes were a hit amongst the parties. I think that the unexpected lemon curd filling makes them even better, like a little surprise of sorts! Definitely a successful recipe that I would repeat time and time again.
Preheat oven to 350°F and line 16 muffin cups with large paper liners.
Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until smooth.
Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the pastry flour, baking powder and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and lemon juice.
Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the butter mixture in three separate additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Blend well after each addition.
Spoon the batter into the paper liners and bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed. Note: the batter will be quite thick. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 10 minutes, then remove them from the tins to cool completely.
For the topping, preheat the oven to 375°F and place the cooled cupcakes on a baking tray. Spoon about a teaspoon of lemon curd or marmalade on top of each cupcake, keeping the filling as close to the centre as possible.
Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then slowly add the sugar while whipping. Whip the egg whites on high speed until they hold a stiff peak.
Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and pipe swirls on top of each cupcake, making sure to completely cover the lemon curd or marmalade. Bake the cupcakes for 6-8 minutes, until the meringue browns slightly, and cool to room temperature.
Notes from Anna:
To make room for even more lemon curdcor marmalade, you can spoon a little cake out of the centre of the cooled cupcakes.