Yield: about 16 bars
“Back to Baking”, pp. 72
This recipe was fun and simple to make. Pulse all the ingredients except the raspberry jam together, press half of it in the pan and layer the raspberry jam and the rest of the crumble mixture on top. It smelled nice and fruity while baking. Although I was very careful to gently press the crumble top layer, it ended up a bit too compact for my liking. I think it would have been better if the top layer was more loose and more crumbly (these are crumble bars, after all). Adding in some oats to the leftover crumble mixture before sprinkling in atop the raspberry jam would also add a nice texture.
Unfortunately, I was not really a fan of these bars. Although the texture added by the cornmeal is nice, I found the bars too dense, both in texture and flavour, and could only eat a few bites at a time. There is also something unusual about the taste and I found them too sweet, probably due to the raspberry jam. Perhaps this might be different based on the brand of raspberry jam used, but for me to find a dessert too sweet it must really be in excess. If I were to remake these I would probably try to just puree some fresh raspberries and use that as a middle layer instead.
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom or ground allspice
- 1 cup cool unsalted butter, cut in pieces
- 1 cup raspberry jam
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper so the paper hangs over the sides a little.
- In a food processor, pulse together briefly the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and cardamom or allspice to blend. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl, then cut in the cool butter pieces using your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.
- Put 3 cups of this crumble texture into the prepared pan and firmly press down so that the mixture is even around the pan.
- Stir the raspberry jam to soften it and spread it evenly over the pressed crumble.
- Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture on top and press down gently.
- Bake the bars for about 30-35 minutes, until they just begin to brown around the edges. Cool the bars to room temperature, then chill them for at least 2 hours before slicing into 16 or 18 bars, depending on how big you want them.
Yield: 16 large cookies
“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: one 9-inch tart
“Back to Baking”, pp. 116
After several months of not posting any new recipes from Anna’s cookbook, I decided that it was time to remedy this! I “owed” my boyfriend two cakes due to two lost bets, and as per his request I made this delicious-looking raspberry and pecan tart, two of his favourite foods. I was happy to finally have a recipe to do and a dessert to make, and it was no trouble at all to do. I am typically not a fantastic dough maker, but since I had already made the nut-crust tart shell required for this recipe, I new what to improve (add a bit more water to obtain the right texture! This is temperature- and kitchen-dependent!) and got it perfectly right I think. The shell was easy to slice and bite through yet did not crumble to pieces. The tart itself was very good. The filling is slightly gooey with a nice crunch provided by the pecans, and the sweet burst of juice and flavour from the raspberries was very pleasant. I was not expecting it, but the coconut was the perfect combination in this tart, providing both a good bite and some sweetness. We devoured it in a matter of days. Strongly recommended for an uncomplicated light dessert.
- 1 Nut-Crust Tart Shell recipe, baked and cooled
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups roughly chopped pecans
- 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Place the pan containing the baked crust onto a baking tray until it cools down to room temperature.
- In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk and vanilla extract until blended.
- Stir in the pecans, coconut, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well to combine.
- Gently fold in the raspberries.
- Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and bake on the tray for about 45-50 minutes, until evenly browned and set. Cool the tart to room temperature in the pan before removing the outer ring of the pan to slice. The tart can be served at room temperature or chilled.
Yield: one 9-inch cheesecake
“Back to Baking”, pp. 164
Oh how I love the richness and sweetness of cheesecakes. So much deliciousness in one dessert is probably frowned upon in some parts of the world (sadly!). This recipe is very unique in the sense that it is at least as good as a traditional cheesecake, but contains fresh raspberries and also has hints of lime and white chocolate. The lime cuts down on the sweetness a bit while the white chocolate provides an additional layer of flavor. Another unusual ingredient for a cheesecake is the sour cream, which makes for a less rich cheesecake that is just as scrumptious. I would never have thought to combine these eclectic ingredients together, but they totally work! If you are craving an excellent yet less rich cheesecake, this is definitely the recipe to try.
Ingredients for crust:
- 1/2 recipe Snickerdoodles, processed into crumbs
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Ingredients for filling:
- 2 packages (8 oz/250 g each) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
- 4 oz (125 g) white chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup fresh raspberries, plus extra for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9-inch springform pan.
- In a bowl, stir the cookie crumbs with the melted butter and press them into the bottom and halfway up the side of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool while preparing the filling.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Beat the cream cheese and flour until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Slowly pour in the sugar while beating and scrape the sides of the bowl 2-3 times while adding.
- Beat in the sour cream, lime juice and zest, and vanilla extract until well blended. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- One at a time, add the eggs and the egg yolk, beating well at low speed after each addition.
- By hand, fold in the white chocolate and raspberries. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust.
- Place the pan on a baking tray and bake for about 40 minutes (it took my oven more like one hour !), until the outside edges of the cheesecake are set but the centre still has a little jiggle to it. Cool the cheesecake to room temperature, then chill until set, at least 6 hours.
Notes from Anna:
- Crumbs from any other buttery sugar cookies could be used in place of Snickerdoodles.
- Just before placing it in the refrigerator to chill, run a palette knife around the inside edge of the springform. This allows to separate the cheesecake from the pan so that if it contracts, it will pull away from the sides of the pan and will be less likely to crack in the middle.
Yield: 12 sticky buns
“Back to Baking”, pp. 233
The third and last dessert I made this past weekend were the scrumptious-looking chocolate cranberry buns. As always, I was craving chocolate when I was baking, thus my primary motivation for making these pull-apart sticky buns. Unfortunately, however, what I obtained was not so scrumptious-looking and definitely not pull-awart gooeyness. I don’t know at what step I could have made a mistake, but something definitely happened with this recipe. Although I re-read it two times, something didn’t add up. When preparing to roll, the dough was extremely wet and soft, not anything that could be folded. I had a feeling at this point that I would not obtain sticky buns, but I went ahead with the recipe anyway since it was mostly done. The dough never raised and was always very soft, wet and sticky. What I achieved in the end were things that looked like muffins and were a bit dry. I am mostly annoyed with this as I have no idea where I went wrong. I triple-checked that I used the correct yeast. The taste itself is not even so good to me, but perhaps I am biased by the unsavoury look of the chocolate muffins. I will undoubtedly add this recipe to the list of those I want to repeat to improve. Perhaps you will have better results (let me know if you do!).
Ingredients for starter:
- 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon dry instant yeast
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Ingredients for base:
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
Ingredients for filling:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Ingredients for brushing:
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- For the starter, stir all the ingredients together and set aside while preparing the base.
- For the base, using a hand or stand mixer cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and blending after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Start and finish with the dry ingredients. Make sure to scrape the side of the bowl after each addition.
- Stir in the starter, the dried cranberries and chocolate chips. Mix well to combine.
- Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise, refrigerated, overnight. (Note: at this point the dough will be very wet and very sticky).
- Prepare the filling by creaming the butter until fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Grease a muffin tin.
- On a generously floured work surface, turn out the dough. Flour the surface of the dough and roll it to a rectangle of about 20 inches by 12 inches. The dough will be very easy to roll since it is so soft.
- Spread the filing over the surface of the dough and sprinkle it with the dried cranberries. Roll up the dough from the long slide and slice into 12 buns. Place each bun into a muffin cup, cover and let rise for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Whisk the egg with the water and brush the buns with the mixture. Bake for about 50 minutes until they are cooked though (you can tell by peeking through the layers of dough. Let the buns cool completely in the pan.