Summer Break Recipe Collection

Summer Break Recipe Collection

Baking is magic, don't you agree? It is simply amazing to watch this chemical reaction of an assortment of ingredients that - when things go well - turn into something delicious to eat. I remember being fascinated as a child, and now my girls love to help me measure flour, sugar, milk, add the baking powder and a pinch of salt, cream the butter, and beat the eggs when we bake together. Although we can't eat like this every day, we do all enjoy an occasional homemade indulgence (or two). 

I feel good knowing that when we bake our cakes, cookies, and muffins at home, everything is natural. We use organic flour, butter, and eggs whenever possible, and I don't have to worry about additives or artificial ingredients. I often try to sneak in some whole wheat flour and fruits in my recipes as you will see below!
As a little gift to you today, I am sharing 3 of our recent summer favorites - enjoy!

Banana Fudge Cake

1/2 cup butter
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups pureed bananas (3-4 ripe bananas)
1 Tbsp. rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
powdered sugar
whipped or ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease or line a 9 inch springform pan. Melt butter and 4 oz. of semisweet chocolate together, stirring constantly, in a saucepan on low heat. Stir in unsweetened cocoa and cool. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until foamy. Add pureed bananas, rum, and vanilla extract. Mix well. Stir in cooled butter/chocolate mixture (make sure butter has cooled, or you might cook your eggs!)

In a separate bowl, mix flours, baking powder, and salt. Add to banana/chocolate mixture gradually, stirring until all is just moistened. Fold in chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, and walnuts or pecans. Pour batter into prepared springform pan. Bake at 350ºF for 40-45 minutes or until tests done.

This is wonderful served slightly warm, sprinkled with a dusting of powdered sugar (use a doily for a fancy look) and whipped cream or ice cream if you like.


Nectarine Plum Crumble

1 pound plums, pitted and sliced
1 pound nectarines, pitted and sliced

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt

** This is easy, fast, and delicious. Feel free to substitute any of your favorite fruits - apples, peaches, pears, blueberries, etc.

Butter your baking dish - ceramic or pyrex works best - and preheat oven to 350ºF. Place all of your sliced fruit in the bottom of baking dish. In a food processor, grind together sugar, flours, oats, butter, and salt to make the crumble topping. You can also do this with your hands, but I find the oats have a nicer texture when ground slightly. Sprinkle topping over fruit, and bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden and juices are bubbling. Also lovely with whipped or ice cream. Disappears in a hurry!  


Cream Cheese & Jam Thumbprint Cookies

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
your favorite summertime jam

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease or line 2 cookie sheets. Beat together sugar, butter, cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy, then add egg and vanilla mixing well. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, then add to butter/sugar mixture unitl just combined. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours until firm. 

Form dough into walnut sized balls, place on prepared baking sheet, and add your thumbprint - or let your children help you :) You may need to round out the centers a bit if the cookies look quite lopsided. Carefully fill centers with 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. of your favorite jam - we used homemade tart cherry jam from my mother-in-law which was wonderful! The jam should just fill the thumbprint hole - if you use too much, it will overflow when baking. Put your filled cookies in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until edges are just turning golden brown and jam is slightly bubbly.

Be careful - these cookies must cool first before you eat them! The jam will stay warm for a while, so I would suggest waiting 10-15 minutes before popping one in your mouth. Yum!

Happy Baking!