Tag Archives: #easybaking

Plum rosemary upside-down cake

  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 4-5 ripe plums, halved, pitted, and cut into slices or chunks
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground coriander, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with half of the butter sprinkle the brown sugar and rosemary over the bottom of the pan and arrange the plums in a single layer.

Whisk remaining butter, buttermilk, eggs, and sugar together. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well incorporated.

Carefully spread the batter over the plums and make sure it is evenly distributed. Bake 40-50 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove pan from oven and let cool 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Put a serving platter on top of the cake pan and carefully flip the pan over so the serving platter is on the bottom. Let cool completely before removing the pan.

You can serve it by itself, or top with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.


If you don’t have buttermilk, add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of regular milk.

You can leave the eggs out, but the cake will be a little denser than if you use them.

Summer zucchini and squash tart

  • 1 sheet puff pastry or pie crust dough
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • Black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ½ cup shredded cheese (use your favorite)
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • Olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into thin rounds (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into thin rounds (about 1 cup)

Let the puff pastry or pie crust come to room temperature. Lightly flour a board and place the dough on top. Sprinkle a little flour on top and smooth over dough. Carefully roll the dough until it is about 1/8-1/4” thick and a little larger than the pan you are using.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parsley, dill, egg, ½ teaspoon salt, and mix well. Fold in half of the cheese. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, yellow squash, ½ teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and drizzle with olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons). Add pepper to taste and mix well. Make sure that the squash is lightly covered with seasoning and oil.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

If using a non-stick pan, lightly spray with oil. Gently lay the rolled dough over the pan and press into pan. There should be enough dough to hang over the top of the pan. You’ll trim this off before putting it into the oven.

Once the dough is in the pan, spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture in the bottom (about 2 tablespoons). Taking the zucchini and yellow squash, arrange in a single layer on top of the ricotta. Add another layer of ricotta on top of the squash. This layer should be thicker, and will take around ¼ cup depending on the pan used.

Repeat the squash and ricotta layers until you reach the top of the pan. You want to end with a thin ricotta layer. Carefully trim the dough at the edge of the pan. If you have enough dough left, you can cut into shapes or make a decorative edge around the pan.

Top with the remaining cheese and bake 40-50 minutes, until the crust is golden and the squash is soft when poked with knife.

Remove from the oven and let cool at least 30 minutes before serving. This can be served warm or at room temperature.


You can substitute asparagus for the squash and zucchini, but check the tart after 30 minutes in the oven. If it isn’t done then let it bake another 10-15 minutes, checking it every 5 minutes.

This is a great way to use whatever you have on hand for cheese and any leftover cooked vegetables or meat. Make sure to thinly slice or dice the meat used so that the tart is easy to eat.

Fermented life

Four years ago, I made my first sourdough bread with a homegrown starter named “Stinky”. If you’ve ever made your own fermented food, you can relate to the name. Starters go through many stages of existence over the course of time, and some of them are more funky than others. Stinky developed well enough, but I learned early on not to keep him on the counter near an open bottle of wine or beer. Yeast is in the air all around us, and unless it is a flavor you are going for, an opened bottle of Chardonnay will completely change things. Let’s just say the bread made that week was not bad, but it did have a lot of white wine characteristics. It took about two weeks of daily feeding to get the flavor back to what I wanted.

To consistently bake good loaves, you need to research and practice. Sourdough is a little different than a regular yeast bread in a few ways. First, it takes 2-3 days per batch instead of a couple of hours. That takes a conscious effort for planning the timing of the steps. If you work outside of the home like I do, it can be tricky. I’ve pretty much gotten the timing down so I can bake before or after work. The unpredictable variable right now is the summer heat. We hang around 100-105F July-early September, with relatively low humidity. The best way to combat this is to watch your dough and know how it reacts in different season. When you make sourdough, be patient. You can only push the dough so much because the microbes work at their own pace. I have made hybrid breads with adding a little yeast and sugar, but the timing is harder to manage when you are also working. I’ve had more than a few batches proof merrily along, then zip past the optimal window for baking. The over-proofed loaves taste and texture were still good, but not so much if you are trying for a more open crumb result.

Have patience with your starter (levain) and feed it on a regular schedule. I don’t agree with the “toss half and then feed” idea. It is very wasteful. If you are consistent and careful, you can feed your starter once a week and put it in the fridge. I pull Tex or Stinky out a day before I need to use them and feed them. Since they are both mature starters, they wake up pretty quickly. After I pull the levain for the recipe, I lightly feed again and return the starter to the fridge. If you keep it on the counter and feed on a more regular basis, just use the discard to make frybread, biscuits, or pancakes.

Another major difference between home baking with a starter or yeast is how you handle the bread. With a yeast loaf, there is a lot of time spent kneading the dough, letting it rise, kneading it again, then usually a final rise. With sourdough there is a bit of mixing/kneading early on, but that’s where things change. You fold and coil instead of kneading after the rise, and even that changes depending on the dough hydration, the type of bread (whole wheat, spelt, cornmeal addition, etc.). If not done right, you wind up with a tasty frisbee that makes very thin toast, croutons, or breadcrumbs. Don’t get discouraged if that happens. Even if you are using a recipe, keep track of what you do and what the result is. Some people have beginners luck. Their first loaf or two comes out amazingly beautiful with a distinctive ear or crust, and then the rest are so-so. I figure that if it tastes good and you are able to correct what didn’t go 100%, then you have (mostly) won. No one will know any different if the panzanella salad was made with a pretty loaf or one that didn’t get a good rise. There will always be another loaf in your future to bake again.

One final thing. Unless you know what you are doing or have made the recipe before, DO NOT freestyle bake and swap out ingredients and quantities willy-nilly. Different grains have completely different hydration rates and needs, and some breads really do need oil, milk, or egg added. Baking powder, baking soda, yeast, and starter (levain) are not always interchangeable. Follow the recipe at least once, and even then only swap out 1/4-1/2 cup flour at a time. I know my husband teases me because I don’t log my baking and cooking as much as I should, but I do know any changes I make in ingredients, baking times, or temps to know what went right (or almost right).

Ready to try an easy yeast bread? Try this one on for size and let me know how yours came out.

Strawberry Buttermilk Pie

The first time I heard about buttermilk pie, I was very skeptical. It sounded too strange for this California girl. I was looking for something different to enter into the local fair that year, so I decided to give it a try. I was very glad I did. The flavor is reminiscent of a cheesecake. For the skeptics out there, just give it a try. This version has fresh strawberries, though you can use frozen if that is what you have. Just make sure to thaw and drain first.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 9-inch pie shell (unbaked) or 8 4-inch mini pie shells
10-16 strawberries, cut in quarters
2-3 teaspoons of cornstarch

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and flour. Add the softened butter and cream the mixture. Once combined and fluffy, add in buttermilk, eggs, salt, and vanilla. Carefully pour the mixture into the pie or tart shells.

Sprinkle the cornstarch over the strawberry pieces to lightly coat, and divide evenly among the tart shells. If using one 9-inch shell, spread the strawberries evenly in the custard.

Bake at 350F degrees for 20-25 minutes (or 30 for a 9-in pie), or until filling is set. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Variations: swirl a teaspoon of your favorite jam in the buttermilk custard in each tart shell; substitute other berries for the strawberries; garnish with toasted coconut or candied nuts.

Easy peanut butter cookies

Did you ever get the craving for something sweet to snack on that was easy to make with only a few ingredients? This one is for you! I love cookies and coffee as a quick mid-morning snack when I’m at work. Just one or two cookies will tide me over until lunchtime. You can change it up by adding shredded coconut, raisins, or chocolate chips.

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Mix together the peanut butter(s), sugar, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda until well combined. Add in the vanilla extract, egg and flour, and beat until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, cover the bowl, and chill the dough in the refrigerator for an hour.

Heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Form the dough into small balls about the size of a walnut, then shape into an oval. Gently pinch the middle of the oval together so that it has a rough peanut shape. Use a fork to make the crisscross marks gently on the cookies. If the dough sticks to the fork, dip the tines in cold water first.

Place on prepared baking sheet about two inches apart, and bake for 10-12 minutes. If you like softer cookies, take them out at about 10 minutes. If you want to put frosting in the middle to sandwich them, leave them in closer to 12 minutes.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before moving to a rack to finish cooling. Store in a covered container.

You can leave out the chocolate chips, or add in other goodies to your liking.

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