Category Archives: Desserts

Perfect Peach Blueberry Crisp Recipe

Summer Dessert
Peach Blueberry Crisp

There are so many options for summertime desserts.  I try to use fresh fruits in desserts throughout the summer season and often look for combinations that will work well together.  Some fruits just naturally complement each other, like blueberries and peaches, for example.

Summer Berries
PEI Blueberries

We eagerly await the arrival of the peaches from the Niagara region as this is not a fruit commonly grown on PEI (though I know of one farmer who has been testing them with our growing season and did have some crop in 2017).

Peaches
Peaches

I live not far from a high bush blueberry u-pick and, in August, we have a steady diet of these lovely berries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

After I have had lots of the peaches and berries on their own, I tend to start looking for other ways in which to use them.

Summer Crisp Dessert
Perfect Peach and Blueberry Crisp

For this dessert, I have combined the blueberries with the peaches to create this lovely summer crisp dessert.  Much as I love the traditional apple crisp (click here for my recipe), I have to say that I think this one might just edge out the apple crisp for my favorite.  The peach and blueberry flavours work very well together.  In order to keep the color of the filling from being too dark, I use peaches as the predominant fruit and a much lesser amount of the blueberries as the secondary fruit to tease the tastebuds.

Summer dessert
Peach Blueberry Crisp

Use peaches that are fully ripe. They will be easier to peel and slice if they are dipped into hot water then immediately into ice cold water.  Slice the peaches into wedges about ½” – ¾” thick. You want to see lovely identifiable slices of peaches in the filling for presentation.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

I like the use of the high bush blueberries in this dessert because they are large enough that they give a real flavour burst when they meet the palate.

I use cornstarch for the filling thickener instead of flour.  I find, especially for light-colored fruits, the cornstarch will allow for a more clear/transparent filling than will flour which will sometimes create a more murky or cloudy filling. In my view, the cornstarch renders a more silky textured filling. The addition of some cinnamon and nutmeg makes this a very aromatic dessert. It smells simply divine when it is baking!

Summer Desserts
Peach Blueberry Crisp

The streusel topping is easy to make and just takes standard pantry ingredients.  Chopped pecans can be added to the topping but they are optional.

Peach Blueberry Crisp
Peach Blueberry Crisp

This dessert can be made in either a baking pan or a casserole that has an 8-cup capacity as this will allow the crisp to cook evenly and, hopefully, not bubble out during baking.  I do, however, place a foil-lined baking sheet either directly under the baking pan(s) or on the rack below to catch any drips that may occur during baking.

Peach Blueberry Crisp
Peach Blueberry Crisp

This dessert can be made in individual oven-safe baking dishes as well.

Peach Blueberry Crisp
Peach Blueberry Crisp

I often serve this dessert plain but it can be dressed up with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Summer Dessert
Peach Blueberry Crisp

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

Ingredients:

Streusel Topping:
¾ cup all-purpose flour (to make it gluten-free, use an equal amount of gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour)
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup quick rolled oats (to make it gluten-free, use the small-flake gluten-free rolled oats)
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup cold butter (no substitutes)
1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Filling:
2 lbs fresh peaches
1 cup high bush blueberries
1½ tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
¾ tsp cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch salt

Method:

Streusal Topping:
In medium-sized bowl, combine, the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Mix well.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.  Add the chopped pecans if using.  Cover and refrigerate until peach and blueberry filling is prepared.

Filling:  
Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for apx. 1 – 1½  minutes then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches and slice each peach into wedges ½” – ¾ thick”. This should equal approximately 5 cups cut peaches. Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss gently to coat the peaches. Sprinkle with vanilla. Add the blueberries. Stir gently.

In small bowl, mix the brown and white sugars with the cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Mix into the peaches and blueberries, being careful not to break down the peach wedges.

Grease 8-cup capacity casserole dish or baking pan (or 6 – 8 small individual oven-safe serving-sized baking dishes).  Transfer filling to baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until topping is browned and juices from filling are bubbling.  Remove from oven and let crisp stand for 30-35 minutes before serving.  Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Yield:  6 – 8 servings

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

This summer crisp features plump blueberries and sweet peaches covered with a delicious buttery streusel topping. Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Blueberry and Peach Crisp, Peach Blueberry Crisp, Summer Dessert
Servings 8
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Streusel Topping:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour to make it gluten-free, use an equal amount of gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup quick rolled oats to make it gluten-free, use the small-flake gluten-free rolled oats
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup cold butter no substitutes
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans optional

Filling:

  • 2 lbs fresh peaches
  • 1 cup high bush blueberries
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

Streusal Topping:

  1. In medium-sized bowl, combine, the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add the chopped pecans if using. Cover and refrigerate until peach and blueberry filling is prepared.

Filling:

  1. Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for apx. 1 - 1½ minutes then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches and slice each peach into wedges ½” - ¾ thick”. This should equal approximately 5 cups cut peaches. Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss gently to coat the peaches. Sprinkle with vanilla. Add the blueberries. Stir gently.
  3. In small bowl, mix the brown and white sugars with the cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Mix into the peaches and blueberries, being careful not to break down the peach wedges.
  4. Grease 8-cup capacity casserole dish or baking pan (or 6 - 8 small individual oven-safe serving-sized baking dishes). Transfer filling to baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until topping is browned and juices from filling are bubbling. Remove from oven and let crisp stand for 30-35 minutes before serving. Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

 

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Summer Dessert
Peach and Blueberry Crisp

 

Peach and Blueberry Crisp
Peach and Blueberry Crisp

Classic Peach Pie Recipe

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

One of the things I most look forward to in summer is all the fresh produce. I especially love all the seasonal fruits and berries because they make grand pies and pastry making is one of my favorite baking activities.  In August, we eagerly await the wonderful peaches that come from the Niagara region – the baskets of large yellow/orange plump, juicy peaches.

Ontario Peaches
Peaches

Today, my feature recipe is the classic fresh peach pie, simply sublime when served with a scoop of fine vanilla ice cream.  This is a perfect end to a lovely summer dinner. It’s like summer sunshine in a pie!

Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

This recipe calls for about 2 pounds of peaches so, depending on their size, this translates into about 6-7 good-sized peaches. Choose peaches that are ripe, have a slight “give” to them when their flesh is gently pressed, and are free from blemishes, cuts, and bruises.  The peaches will be easier to peel if they are placed in hot water for about a minute then immediately dipped into ice cold water to stop them from cooking and to cool them enough to handle as they are peeled.

Peaches
Peaches

Peaches are very juicy but all that juice can make for a very “soupy” pie.  A soupy pie presents problems cutting and plating it. It’s not very appetizing to see a pie that has broken apart and gone “splat” on a plate! But, there is a remedy to prevent the pie becoming too soupy.  I recommend draining the cut peaches in a colander for 10-12 minutes.  The ones I drained for this pie released 2/3 cup of peach juice, far too much for a slice of pie to stay intact when cut.  The peaches will still release more juice as the pie bakes. What I do is reserve 2½ – 3 tablespoons of the peach juice and put it in to the filling to keep the pie from becoming too dense and dry.  I find this is just the right amount to give the consistency and texture of pie I am seeking, still lovely and juicy but not too solid.

Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

The pie is not difficult to make and does not take any uncommon ingredients.  I do add a bit of lemon juice (which helps to slow down the peaches from turning brown) and a small amount of almond flavouring along with some cinnamon and nutmeg.  The addition of some finely grated orange peel goes well with the peach flavour but does not mask or overtake it – after all, we want the natural peach flavour to be the star in this pie.  The peaches are plenty sweet on their own so don’t require much additional sweetener.  I do add a small amount of granulated and brown sugar but not a whole lot because the pie would be sickeningly sweet. The addition of a small amount of brown sugar lends some richness to the filling. I do not use all brown sugar in this recipe because it will result in the lovely peach color being diminished.  Hence, the reason why I use a combination of both white and brown sugars.

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

I use cornstarch as the thickener in this pie as I find it results in a more translucent filling than does flour which can become pasty and cause certain pie fillings (especially light-colored ones like peach pie) to have a cloudy appearance. The drained peaches are mixed with the dry ingredients and the reserved peach juice.  I recommend letting the mixed filling sit for about 5 minutes to give the sugars time to break down and blend well into the filling. After the filling has set for 5 minutes, gently stir it being careful not to break apart the peach wedges. This will ensure the dry ingredients are well blended and distributed throughout the filling.

Use your favorite pastry for a two-crust pie.  This pie lends itself well to either a full top crust or a lattice top, whichever you prefer.  To make this pie gluten-free, click here for my gluten-free pastry recipe.  The photos of the pie in this posting are made with this tender, flaky, and flavorful gluten-free crust.

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

Make sure the oven rack is placed in the lower third of the oven.  This helps the bottom crust to bake better and prevents the top crust from browning too quickly.  If, however, the crust starts to brown too fast, simply loosely tent the tin foil over the pie as it continues to bake.

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

 

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Peach Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry for a two-crust pie to fit 9” pie plate

Approximately 2 pounds fresh peaches (about 6 – 7 large peaches), peeled and sliced into wedges about ½” to ¾” thick [This should equal 4½ – 5 cups sliced ripe peaches]
1½ tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
¾ tsp finely grated orange peel
1/8 tsp almond flavouring
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp butter

1½ – 2 tsp cane sugar (optional for decoration)

Method:

Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for 1 minute then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches.

Place colander over deep bowl.  Cut the peaches into halves or quarters.  Gently pull the sections apart and remove and discard the stones.  Cut the peaches into wedges, lengthwise, between ½” and ¾“ thick and place in colander.  Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss very gently to coat with the juice to prevent the peaches from rapidly browning.  Let the peaches drip for about 10-12 minutes to remove excess juice that would make the pie “soupy”.  Reserve 2½ – 3 tbsp of the peach juice and discard any remaining juice. Transfer the peaches to a large bowl.

In separate bowl, combine the sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and grated orange rind. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the peaches and toss very gently to coat the peaches.  Add the almond flavoring to the 2½ – 3 tablespoons of reserved peach juice and sprinkle over the peaches.  Stir gently to mix ingredients. Let stand for 5 minutes then stir carefully again to ensure all ingredients are incorporated and equally distributed. Be careful not to break apart the peach wedges.

Roll out pastry into a circle approximately 12” – 13” round and about 1/8“ thick. Transfer pastry to a lightly greased 9” pie plate, fitting the dough over the bottom and sides of the plate, ensuring there are no air pockets.  Trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate.  Roll out top crust to same thickness.

Brush the bottom crust in the pie plate with a light coating of the beaten egg to keep the crust from getting soggy.  Reserve the remainder of the egg.

Transfer the peach filling to the prepared pie plate fitted with the pastry dough. Cut the butter into chunks and distribute on top of the filling.

Add ¾ tsp water to remaining beaten egg.  Brush the bottom crust edge all around the pie plate lightly with the egg-water mixture. Place top pie crust over peach filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate around the pie plate edge.  Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of a fork to adhere the top crust to bottom crust. Cut a “X” (or 2-3 slits) about 2” long in center of top crust to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes.  For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with the tines of the fork.  Lightly brush egg wash over top crust of pie.  If desired, sprinkle with 1½ – 2 tsp cane sugar.

Place pie in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow filling to settle and to chill pastry to reduce shrinkage while it bakes.

Place oven rack in bottom third of oven.  Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place chilled pie on tinfoil-lined baking sheet to catch any drips should filling bubble out as pie bakes.  Transfer chilled pie to oven.  Bake for 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 375°F.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until crust is baked and golden brown and pie shows signs that filling is bubbling.  Check pie after it has been in the oven for about 30-35 minutes – if top crust is browning too quickly, loosely tent pie with tin foil.

Remove pie from the oven and transfer to wire rack to cool completely (minimum of 4 hours for the filling to set) before cutting and serving with a scoop of fine vanilla ice cream.

Yield:  1 – 9” double-crusted pie

Peach Pie

This classic homemade peach pie is like summer in a pie with its fresh ripe peaches encased in tender flaky pastry. Serve the pie with your favorite vanilla ice cream.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • Pastry for a two-crust pie to fit 9” pie plate
  • Approximately 2 pounds fresh peaches about 6 - 7 large peaches, peeled and sliced into wedges about ½” to ¾” thick [This should equal 4½ - 5 cups sliced ripe peaches]
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp finely grated orange peel
  • 1/8 tsp almond flavouring
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1½ - 2 tsp cane sugar optional for decoration

Instructions

  1. Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for 1 minute then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches.
  2. Place colander over deep bowl. Cut the peaches into halves or quarters. Gently pull the sections apart and remove and discard the stones. Cut the peaches into wedges, lengthwise, between ½” and ¾“ thick and place in colander. Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss very gently to coat with the juice to prevent the peaches from rapidly browning. Let the peaches drip for about 10-12 minutes to remove excess juice that would make the pie “soupy”. Reserve 2½ - 3 tbsp of the peach juice and discard any remaining juice. Transfer the peaches to a large bowl.
  3. In separate bowl, combine the sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and grated orange rind. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the peaches and toss very gently to coat the peaches. Add the almond flavoring to the 2½ - 3 tablespoons of reserved peach juice and sprinkle over the peaches. Stir gently to mix ingredients. Let stand for 5 minutes then stir carefully again to ensure all ingredients are incorporated and equally distributed. Be careful not to break apart the peach wedges.
  4. Roll out pastry into a circle approximately 12” - 13” round and about 1/8“ thick. Transfer pastry to a lightly greased 9” pie plate, fitting the dough over the bottom and sides of the plate, ensuring there are no air pockets. Trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate. Roll out top crust to same thickness.
  5. Brush the bottom crust in the pie plate with a light coating of the beaten egg to keep the crust from getting soggy. Reserve the remainder of the egg.
  6. Transfer the peach filling to the prepared pie plate fitted with the pastry dough. Cut the butter into chunks and distribute on top of the filling.
  7. Add ¾ tsp water to remaining beaten egg. Brush the bottom crust edge all around the pie plate lightly with the egg-water mixture. Place top pie crust over peach filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate around the pie plate edge. Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of a fork to adhere the top crust to bottom crust. Cut a “X” (or 2-3 slits) about 2” long in center of top crust to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes. For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with the tines of the fork. Lightly brush egg wash over top crust of pie. If desired, sprinkle with 1½ - 2 tsp cane sugar.
  8. Place pie in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow filling to settle and to chill pastry to reduce shrinkage while it bakes.
  9. Place oven rack in bottom third of oven. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place chilled pie on tinfoil-lined baking sheet to catch any drips should filling bubble out as pie bakes. Transfer chilled pie to oven. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake for about 45 minutes or until crust is baked and golden brown and pie shows signs that filling is bubbling. Check pie after it has been in the oven for about 30-35 minutes - if top crust is browning too quickly, loosely tent pie with tin foil.
  10. Remove pie from the oven and transfer to wire rack to cool completely (minimum of 4 hours for the filling to set) before cutting and serving with a scoop of fine vanilla ice cream.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 1 - 9” double-crusted pie

 

For other great pie recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Rustic Apple Pie
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie
Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Squash Pie
Glazed Strawberry Pie
Rustic Rhubarb Pie
Coconut Cream Pie
Mock Cherry Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Today, I am sharing my recipe for a real old-fashioned type of dessert – Rhubarb Pudding Cake. The cake is “self-saucing” which means that the delectable sauce forms underneath the simple cake batter as the cake bakes. It’s an “all-in-one” pudding and cake! It may not be the most extravagant looking dessert but it sure is mighty tasty! If you are a rhubarb lover, you will love this dessert.

Pudding Cake
Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake

This pudding is easy to make and can be made with either fresh or frozen rhubarb.  In fact, I often freeze the amount of rhubarb needed for the pudding in ziploc freezer bags labeled “For Rhubarb Pudding Cake” and it’s a real treat in the middle of winter! This is an old, old family favorite of ours! For those on a gluten-free diet, this pudding is easy to make gluten free – simply replace the quantity of flour called for in the recipe with an equivalent amount of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour.  In fact, the photos in this post are of the gluten-free version of this pudding cake.

Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Rhubarb chunks are spread in the bottom of the baking dish then covered with a simple cake batter that is lightly spiced and then topped with a sauce made with either orange or pineapple juice. The juice trickles down through the batter and meets up with the rhubarb and the two form a heck of a tasty sauce. As the pudding bakes, a soft golden crust forms on top of the cake.  Lots of texture happening in this pudding cake!

Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake

This pudding cake is best served after it has been allowed to stand for 15-20 minutes after it has baked and been removed from the oven.  I sometimes serve it plain and, other times, I’ll add either a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake
[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Ingredients:

2¾ cups rhubarb, cut into ¾“ chunks
3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

¾ cup all-purpose flour (or, to make it gluten free, use equivalent amount of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
1 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
smidgeon cloves

½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1¼ tsp finely grated orange rind
½ cup hot orange or pineapple juice
¼ tsp almond flavouring

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 8” square baking dish.  Arrange rhubarb evenly in dish.  Set aside.

In medium-sized bowl, cream the butter using either a hand mixer or stand mixer.  Slowly add the first amount of sugar and beat at medium speed until butter and sugar are well blended.

In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

In measuring cup, mix the milk and vanilla together. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry and two additions of wet ingredients). Spread this mixture evenly over the rhubarb in the baking dish.

In measuring cup, whisk the remaining ½ cup of sugar and cornstarch together.  Mix in the grated orange rind.  Whisk in the hot orange or pineapple juice and the almond flavouring.  Pour this mixture over the batter in the baking dish.

Bake pudding for 45-50 minutes or until topping is tanned, a crust forms, and rhubarb is bubbling at the edges of the baking dish.  Let pudding stand for 15-20 minutes then spoon into dessert dishes or cut into squares.  Serve plain, top with a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Yield:  6-8 servings

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

This easy-to-make dessert features rhubarb with an orange or pineapple-flavoured sauce that forms underneath a gently spiced cake layer as it bakes. True comfort food!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • cups rhubarb cut into ¾“ chunks
  • 3 tbsp butter softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour or, to make it gluten free, use equivalent amount of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • smidgeon cloves
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • tsp finely grated orange rind
  • ½ cup hot orange or pineapple juice
  • ¼ tsp almond flavouring

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 8” square baking dish. Arrange rhubarb evenly in dish. Set aside.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, cream the butter using either a hand mixer or stand mixer. Slowly add the first amount of sugar and beat at medium speed until butter and sugar are well blended.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
  4. In measuring cup, mix the milk and vanilla together. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry and two additions of wet ingredients). Spread this mixture evenly over the rhubarb in the baking dish.
  5. In measuring cup, whisk the remaining ½ cup of sugar and cornstarch together. Mix in the grated orange rind. Whisk in the hot orange or pineapple juice and the almond flavouring. Pour this mixture over the batter in the baking dish.
  6. Bake pudding for 45-50 minutes or until topping is tanned, a crust forms, and rhubarb is bubbling at the edges of the baking dish. Let pudding stand for 15-20 minutes then spoon into dessert dishes or cut into squares. Serve plain, top with a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

 

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Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Old-fashioned Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Homemade Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Summer just would not be summer without ice cream and what better way to enjoy it than to combine two of the season’s best flavors – strawberry and rhubarb – into homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream!

I have been making ice cream for a long time. I have an electric churn that has been in the family for probably close to 50 years.  I keep thinking that, one of these days, I will have the custard made and the motor will give out on the churn.  But, amazingly, it always works!  It’s not fancy but it does the job. There are various types and styles of ice cream makers on the market today but I like my old faithful electric churn. It may look rusty on the outside from all the contact it has had over many years with rock salt that sloshes around with ice in the bucket but the canister is in perfect condition and the churn still makes great smooth ice cream!

Ice Cream Maker
Electric Ice Cream Maker

It usually takes about 20-25 minutes for the ice cream to churn.  The ice cream will come out of the canister quite soft textured but placing it in the deep freeze for about 3 hours will result in it firming up very well.

Homemade Ice Cream
Homemade Churned Ice Cream

I use the traditional custard method for making ice cream. It’s amazing how such basic, simple ingredients can turn out such a delectable treat.  Milk/cream, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla form the standard base for the custard and then other flavorings may be added.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

The trick to making homemade ice cream is to use the good stuff! Yes, the real cream, whipping cream, and whole milk.  This will give the custard the rich base and the ice cream its smooth texture. While granulated sugar can be used, my preference is to use the super-fine caster sugar as there is no grit at all to it. I always make my custard the night before I churn the ice cream and place it in the refrigerator overnight as it gives the flavors time to develop as they “mix and mingle” and the custard needs to be very cold to start the churning. In fact, I put the churn canister and beaters in the freezer for an hour or so before churning so they are cold as well.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

One ingredient I add to this particular ice cream recipe is strawberry balsamic vinegar – yes, vinegar goes in this recipe but not just any vinegar and not a lot of it. One tablespoon of high quality strawberry balsamic will deepen and enhance the strawberry flavor and, no, it will not leave a lingering vinegar taste in the ice cream. If you have rose water, the addition of just 1 1/2 teaspoons will give a hint of floral flavor. Don’t over-do the rose water or it will start to taste like perfume.  All this small addition is doing is adding a subtle layer of flavoring.

Use the freshest ingredients you can – i.e., make this ice cream when the local rhubarb and strawberries are available as they have the best flavor.

Strawberries
Fresh From the Field PEI Strawberries

Choose the reddest stalks of rhubarb you can find. This recipe does not call for any artificial food coloring (and I don’t use any) so the pink color comes naturally from the red rhubarb and strawberries.  Each batch I make has a slightly different tint of pink to it depending on the quality of the strawberries and rhubarb.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb

I recommend reading through the recipe a couple of times before starting to make the ice cream to organize the prep work and to be sure you have all the required ingredients and understand the method and the sequence for preparing the ingredients.

I have made this Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream both rippled (shown in the photo at the beginning of this posting) using some of the strawberry-rhubarb purée to weave through the ice cream and plain (shown in the ice cream cones in the photo below) where I incorporate all of the purée into the custard.  The ice cream is good either way. This homemade ice cream freezes rock solid hard so I recommend removing it from the freezer 7-10 minutes before using as, otherwise, it will be difficult to scoop.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Plain (no rippling/marbling)

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream makes a great sundae, especially if you drizzle it with crushed strawberries or strawberry-rhubarb sauce.

Ice Cream Sundae
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sundae

And, it makes dandy milkshakes.  Simply combine 3 scoops of the strawberry rhubarb ice cream in a blender with 1/4 cup milk per serving.  Blend until smooth and serve in fancy tall glasses with colorful straws and a strawberry garnish.

Milkshake
Strawberry Rhubarb Milkshake

Oh, this is a special treat on a hot summer day!

Milkshake
Strawberry Rhubarb Milkshake

Homemade ice cream sandwiches are also a wonderful summer treat. I use my gluten-free snickerdoodle cookies for these sandwiches because they are a lovely soft-textured cookie.

Ice Cream Sandwiches
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches

For these sandwiches, freeze the ice cream in a 9×13 baking pan lined with tin foil. Fill the pan with the ice cream to a depth of 3/4″ to 1″ thick.  Place in freezer for a couple of hours then remove the ice cream from the pan and cut round circles of the ice cream with a cookie cutter that is slightly smaller than the cookie size.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Ingredients:

10 oz strawberries, chopped
1 tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar (optional but recommended)
3 tbsp caster sugar
1½ tsp rose water (optional)

1 lb rhubarb, chopped
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp caster sugar

1 cup whipping cream (36%)
1 cup half-and-half or coffee cream (at least 18%)
1 cup whole milk
Scant ¾ cup caster sugar
4 extra-large egg yolks
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp vanilla

Method:

Place chopped strawberries in small bowl and sprinkle with 3 tbsp caster sugar, balsamic vinegar, and rose water. Set aside.

Place chopped rhubarb in small saucepan and add the 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp water and 3 tbsp caster sugar.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until rhubarb is softened. Remove from heat and strain through medium mesh wire sieve.  Reserve the rhubarb pulp and transfer to heat-proof bowl.

Return the strained rhubarb juice to saucepan and cook over medium heat until juice is reduced to about 1/3 cup.  Pour the syrup over the reserved rhubarb pulp. Let cool to room temperature.

Transfer the strawberries and cooled rhubarb mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth.  Strain mixture through medium mesh sieve, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately 2⅔ – 3 cups purée. Discard any remaining pulp. Cool strained mixture in refrigerator.

In heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring whipping cream, half-and-half, and whole milk to the scalding point (small bubbles should start to appear around the edges of the mixture) – 180°F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Do not boil. Transfer mixture to top of double boiler.

In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. Place top of double boiler containing the milk over the simmering water.

In bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt together until pale and creamy.  Gradually add about ¾ cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to blend well.  Pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in top of double boiler, whisking continuously.  Cook over the simmering water, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of a wood spoon or reaches a temperature of 175°F on a candy thermometer.  Do not allow mixture to boil.

Set large clean bowl in a sink of cold water filled to about half the depth of the bowl.  Pour the custard mixture through a wire sieve into the bowl to remove any bits of egg that may have coagulated.  Stir in the vanilla.

Set aside about ½ cup of the puréed strawberry-rhubarb mixture and whisk the remaining puréed fruit mixture into the custard until it is well blended.  Chill, covered, in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or more (can be chilled overnight and up to 24 hours).

Churn custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer about a third of the ice cream to an airtight freezer container. Drizzle half of the reserved purée over the ice cream.  Repeat the process with another layer of ice cream and purée and ending with a layer of the ice cream.  With the thin blade of a knife, or using a wooden skewer, swirl the purée through the ice cream to incorporate it in a marble effect. Do not overmix or the ripple/marble effect will be lost. Cover container tightly and allow ice cream to freeze for at least 3 hours, or until very firm, before serving.

Yield: Apx. 1 quart

Note 1: This ice cream will freeze rock solid hard. Recommend removing ice cream from freezer 7-10 minutes before serving.
Note 2: This ice cream may be made without the rippling effect. Simply incorporate all of the strawberry-rhubarb purée into the custard instead of reserving ½ cup for the rippling/marbling.

Old-fashioned Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Yield: Apx. 1 qt

Delectable old-fashioned homemade ice cream combines two of summer's best flavors - strawberry and rhubarb.

Ingredients

  • 10 oz strawberries, chopped
  • 1 tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar (optional but recommended)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp rose water (optional)
  • 1 lb rhubarb, chopped
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream (36%)
  • 1 cup half-and-half or coffee cream (at least 18%)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Scant ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Place chopped strawberries in small bowl and sprinkle with 3 tbsp caster sugar, balsamic vinegar, and rose water. Set aside.
  2. Place chopped rhubarb in small saucepan and add the 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp water and 3 tbsp caster sugar. Cover and cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until rhubarb is softened. Remove from heat and strain through medium mesh wire sieve. Reserve the rhubarb pulp and transfer to heat-proof bowl.
  3. Return the strained rhubarb juice to saucepan and cook over medium heat until juice is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Pour the syrup over the reserved rhubarb pulp. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Transfer the strawberries and cooled rhubarb mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth. Strain mixture through medium mesh sieve, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately 2 2/3 – 3 cups purée. Discard any remaining pulp. Cool strained mixture in refrigerator.
  5. In heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring whipping cream, half-and-half, and whole milk to the scalding point (small bubbles should start to appear around the edges of the mixture) - 180°F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Do not boil. Transfer mixture to top of double boiler.
  6. In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. Place top of double boiler containing the milk over the simmering water.
  7. In bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt together until pale and creamy. Gradually add about ¾ cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to blend well. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in top of double boiler, whisking continuously. Cook over the simmering water, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of a wood spoon or reaches a temperature of 175°F on a candy thermometer. Do not allow mixture to boil.
  8. Set large clean bowl in a sink of cold water filled to about half the depth of the bowl. Pour the custard mixture through a wire sieve into the bowl to remove any bits of egg that may have coagulated. Stir in the vanilla.
  9. Set aside about ½ cup of the puréed strawberry-rhubarb mixture and whisk the remaining puréed fruit mixture into the custard until it is well blended. Chill, covered, in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or more (can be chilled overnight and up to 24 hours).
  10. Churn custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer about a third of the ice cream to an airtight freezer container. Drizzle half of the reserved purée over the ice cream. Repeat the process with another layer of ice cream and purée and ending with a layer of the ice cream. With the thin blade of a knife, or using a wooden skewer, swirl the purée through the ice cream to incorporate it in a marble effect. Do not overmix or the ripple/marble effect will be lost. Cover container tightly and allow ice cream to freeze for at least 3 hours, or until very firm, before serving.

Notes

Note 1: This ice cream will freeze rock solid hard. Recommend removing ice cream from freezer 7-10 minutes before serving.

Note 2: This ice cream may be made without the rippling effect. Simply incorporate all of the strawberry-rhubarb purée into the custard instead of reserving ½ cup for the rippling/marbling.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sundae
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sundae
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream

 

Steamed Carrot Pudding Recipe

This Carrot Pudding is an old-fashioned steamed pudding made with very plain, simple ingredients – it doesn’t get much more plain than grated carrots and shredded potato!

Christmas Pudding

This pudding is less rich and sweet than a traditional plum pudding.  The blend of spices gives this pudding its flavor. Well, that and rum-soaked raisins!

Steamed Pudding
Steamed Carrot Pudding

Steamed puddings are not difficult to make but they do take a little time since they steam slowly in a pot of hot water for several hours. They can be made in a decorative mould such as I have used for the pudding in these photographs or a simple tin can can be used.  The benefit of a special mould is that it has a cover that locks on to the top of the base of the mould to hold in the steam as the pudding cooks.  However, a double layer of tin foil secured with string can do the same trick with puddings made in cans.

For this recipe, I grate the carrots and shred the potatoes.  As a frame of reference, this is the size of shredder I use for the potatoes.

Shredded Potato
Shredded Potato

And, for the carrots, I use a finer grater to achieve this degree of coarseness of grated carrots.

Grated Carrot
Grated Carrot

This pudding is easily made gluten-free.  Simply replace the 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour with an equal amount of Gluten-Free 1-to-1 baking flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill brand.

Carrot Pudding
Steamed Carrot Pudding

Add a dusting of confectioner’s sugar (aka icing sugar or powdered sugar) at time of serving, if desired.

Steamed Pudding
Steamed Carrot Pudding with a Dusting of Confectioner’s Sugar

Serve this pudding warm with brown sugar sauce or eggnog sauce.

Christmas Pudding
Steamed Carrot Pudding with Brown Sugar Sauce

You can find my recipe for the brown sugar sauce in the link at the end of this posting for traditional plum pudding. And, the recipe for the eggnog sauce, can be found in the link for my steamed cranberry pudding.

Steamed Pudding
Steamed Carrot Pudding Served with Brown Sugar Sauce

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Steamed Carrot Pudding

Ingredients:
1 cup sultana raisins
2 tbsp rum

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch cloves

½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg

1 cup peeled and grated raw carrots
1 cup peeled and shredded raw potatoes

Method:
In small bowl, sprinkle the rum over the raisins.  Set aside.

Sift dry ingredients together.  Set aside.

In large bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the vanilla and egg.  Stir in the grated carrots and shredded potatoes.  Mix well to combine.  Stir in dry ingredients and then the raisins.

Spoon batter into greased 6-cup pudding mould.  Cover with lid.

Place pudding mould on wire rack in a large stock pot.  Add boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the mould.  Cover steamer pot with lid and bring the water to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil.  Steam the pudding over medium-low heat for approximately 3½ – 4 hours or until pudding is firm to the touch and cake tester inserted into centre of pudding comes out clean. (NOTE:  Add more water to pot as necessary to maintain the water level at about the half-way point on the pudding mould during the entire steaming process.)

Remove mould from water bath and place on wire rack and let rest for 20 minutes then turn pudding out onto serving dish and serve warm with brown sugar sauce or eggnog sauce.

Yield:  Apx. 10-12 servings

Steamed Carrot Pudding Recipe

Yield: Apx. 10-12 servings

Rum-soaked raisins combine with grated carrots and shredded potatoes and spices to make a flavorful steamed pudding that is perfect with brown sugar sauce or eggnog sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sultana raisins
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch cloves
  • ½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup peeled and grated raw carrots
  • 1 cup peeled and shredded raw potatoes

Instructions

  1. In small bowl, sprinkle the rum over the raisins. Set aside.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the vanilla and egg. Stir in the grated carrots and shredded potatoes. Mix well to combine. Stir in dry ingredients and then the raisins.
  4. Spoon batter into greased 6-cup pudding mould. Cover with lid.
  5. Place pudding mould on wire rack in a large stock pot. Add boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the mould. Cover steamer pot with lid and bring the water to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil. Steam the pudding over medium-low heat for approximately 3 ½ - 4 hours or until pudding is firm to the touch and cake tester inserted into centre of pudding comes out clean. (NOTE: Add more water to pot as necessary to maintain the water level at about the half-way point on the pudding mould during the entire steaming process.) Remove mould from water bath and place on wire rack and let rest for 20 minutes then turn pudding out onto serving dish and serve warm with brown sugar sauce or eggnog sauce.
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For other recipes of steamed puddings and for the brown sugar and eggnog sauce recipes, follow these links:

Traditional Plum Pudding with Brown Sugar Sauce

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

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Steamed Carrot Pudding
Steamed Carrot Pudding
Carrot Pudding
Steamed Carrot Pudding

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

There are so many ways to make rice pudding. Some use the stove-top method, others (like me) use the oven. Some bake the rice pudding directly in the oven but I prefer the hot water bath method for reasons explained below.

For rice pudding, I prefer a short grain rice such as Arborio which is what I have used in this pudding. Arborio rice (often used in risotto) is named after the Italian town where it is grown.  What makes it my preference for rice pudding is that, when cooked, it has lovely round pearl-like grains that hold their shape and don’t turn to “mush”.  This rice also has a high starch level and that helps to self-thicken the pudding as it bakes and also contributes to its creamy texture.

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

This pudding is true comfort food. The addition of coconut milk gives the pudding a subtle hint of coconut but not so strong that it detracts from the basic flavour we expect to find in an old-fashioned rice pudding.  I think the texture of the coconut milk also helps to keep the custard creamy.

I have used a maple syrup that was infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. This does add a bit of discrete flavor to the pudding but, certainly, plain maple syrup would work just fine. I have added a blend of three spices – cardamon, nutmeg, and cinnamon – but again, not in large quantities because I don’t want the pudding to be overly spiced. I just want it to be delicately flavored.

Raisins, a traditional addition to rice puddings, do need to be “plumped” before adding them to the pudding as, otherwise, they don’t become very soft in the custard.  It’s not very pleasing to the palette to bite into hard, dry raisins amidst a soft creamy custard. For this recipe, I have soaked the 1/3 cup of raisins in about 1 tablespoon of Amaretto by placing these two ingredients in a small covered dish for at least 45 minutes.  Shaking the dish periodically helps to ensure that all raisins are coated with the liqueur.  In fact, you could leave them soaking for a couple of hours (the raisins will just be extra happy if you do so!).

Rice pudding custard is actually quite delicate and, for greatest success, it is best if the egg proteins are protected from direct hot heat and from fast baking.  Because the pudding is made with an egg-milk custard, it is therefore, in my opinion, best if it is baked slowly in a hot water bath.  This is simply a method of baking whereby the pudding dish(es) are placed inside a larger pan into which hot water is poured up to about half way on the pudding dishes or even up to the level of the custard in the ramekins. However, the water should not be so deep that the pudding dishes start to float. They need to sit stable in the water as the pudding bakes.

The benefits of baking this pudding in a hot water bath are several. First, the hot water adds steam and moisture to the oven which will prevent the puddings from drying out and cracking on the top as they bake. Second, any custard mixture of milk and eggs has the potential to curdle – that’s when the milk-egg mixture separates from the solids (in this case, the rice and raisins).  Because it is a slower method of baking and the hot water provides an even heat source, the hot water bath method helps to prevent the risk of curdled custard.  The hot water also helps the custard to bake evenly, both its outside edges as well as its center.  Without the hot water baking method, the custard could bake quicker on the outside edges of the pudding than in the center and part of the pudding would be dried out. Lastly, the slow baking combined with an oven of moist heat will help to keep the pudding creamy in texture as opposed to “rubbery”.

I place the 9″x13″x2″ pan with the ramekins in it on the oven shelf and just ever-so-slightly pull the shelf out, just enough that I can safely pour the hot water into the larger baking pan without getting a burn. I find this is a safer method than filling the pan with the hot water and transporting it to the oven. The water needs to be kept at the same level during the baking process so, since it naturally evaporates, you may need to add more hot water as the pudding bakes.

Bake the puddings for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly”, and the puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Don’t overbake the pudding as it will dry out and be less creamy. Remove ramekins from water bath and let them stand on a wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving.

Adding toasted coconut to the top of this pudding is optional but the crunchiness and flavour are an added touch.  Toasting coconut is simple. The coconut gets spread thinly on a baking sheet and baked in a 350° F oven for about 8-9 minutes. It is important to watch that the coconut does not burn and it should be turned once or twice during the toasting process to ensure even color.

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

1¼ cups cooked Arborio rice
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in 1 tbsp Amaretto
½ cup coconut milk
¾ cup whole milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), toasted (optional)

Method:

In small covered dish, soak raisins in Amaretto for at least 45 minutes to plump them, shaking or stirring occasionally to ensure all raisins are coated with the liqueur.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 6 – ¾-cup size ramekin dishes.

In large bowl, whisk together the coconut and whole milk, egg, sugar, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and spices. Add rice and raisins and stir gently. Divide mixture between 6 prepared ramekins and place in 9”x13”x2” pan. Pour hot water into pan up to half-way on the sides of the ramekins or even up to about the level of the custard in the dishes. However, make sure the ramekins are not floating in the water.

Bake for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly” and puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Remove ramekins from water bath and let stand on wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving. To serve, top each with toasted coconut, if desired.

[To toast coconut: Spread coconut on baking sheet and bake in 350° F oven for 8-9 minutes, stirring once or twice, until coconut is lightly tanned in color.]

Yield: 6 servings.

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Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Serving Size: Apx. 6 servings

A delicate coconut-flavored creamy baked rice pudding with subtle spice flavoring

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups cooked Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup raisins, soaked in 1 tbsp Amaretto
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), toasted (optional)

Instructions

  1. In small covered dish, soak raisins in Amaretto for at least 45 minutes to plump them, shaking or stirring occasionally to ensure all raisins are coated with the liqueur.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 6 – ¾-cup size ramekin dishes.
  4. In large bowl, whisk together the coconut and whole milk, egg, sugar, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and spices. Add rice and raisins and stir gently. Divide mixture between 6 prepared ramekins and place in 9”x13”x2” pan. Pour hot water into pan up to half-way on the sides of the ramekins or even up to about the level of the custard in the dishes. However, make sure the ramekins are not floating in the water.
  5. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly” and puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Remove ramekins from water bath and let stand on wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving. To serve, top each with toasted coconut, if desired.
  6. [To toast coconut: Spread coconut on baking sheet and bake in 350°F oven for 8-9 minutes, stirring once or twice, until coconut is lightly tanned in color.]
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Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

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Coconut Rice Pudding
Coconut Rice Pudding

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

As Christmas approaches and temperatures dip (at least for those of us who live in colder climates), my thoughts tend to turn to substantial “comfort” foods — visions of roast turkey, stuffing and gravy, cranberry sauce, fluffy mashed potatoes, and lots of root vegetables (such as carrots and turnip) enter my head.  And then, of course, there are the dessert options.  Traditionally, in my family, the main Christmas meal of roast turkey is followed by a rich steamed plum pudding served with a brown sugar sauce. You can get my recipe for plum pudding here.

However, there are other options for steamed pudding, particularly for those who prefer something a little lighter than the rich plum pudding. So, I am sharing my recipe for steamed cranberry pudding which is divine when served with a decadent eggnog sauce (recipe follows).

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce
Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

This cranberry pudding is super easy to make and, when paired with a smooth and silky eggnog sauce….well….you might want to have a second pudding on hand for those who have room for seconds!

This pudding is not highly spiced.  It has just enough cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to give it subtle flavour.  Either fresh or frozen cranberries may be used.  In order to release their flavour, the cranberries should be coarsely chopped into about 2-3 pieces each for this pudding.  Tossing the cut berries in some sugar while the batter is being prepared further draws out their flavour.

If you don’t have a steamed pudding mould like the one in the photo below, you can use clean tin cans or even a metal bowl.  Simply spoon the batter into the cans or bowl, cover with a double thickness of heavy-duty tin foil, and secure it with string.  The important thing is that, whatever vessel is used, it has a tight cover for the steaming process since the steam is what cooks the pudding and maintains the moisture without leaving the pudding wet and soggy. I used a standard 8-cup mould but I believe a 6-cup mould would suffice for this pudding.

Steamed Pudding Mould
Steamed Pudding Mould

The advantages of using a pudding mould specially designed for steaming puddings is that it comes with its own cover and it also has a funnel in the center which helps the pudding to cook evenly and without falling. This, of course, is in addition to the attractive shape of the pudding when it is unmoulded and plated.

To steam this pudding, a large stock pot will be needed – one that allows enough room for the pudding mould to sit in the center of the pot and has at least 1 1/2 ” – 2 ” space all around the mould.  A small wire rack that fits into the pot will also be required.  This is what the mould needs to sit on as the pudding steams.

It’s important that the mould (or bowl or tin cans) not touch the bottom or sides of the pot as the water needs to circulate all around the pot (including underneath the pudding mould) in order for the pudding to cook evenly. Once the pudding mould is set on the wire rack, carefully pour in enough boiling water to come up to about the half-way point on the pudding mould.  This is the level of water that must be maintained throughout the entire steaming process so additional boiling water may need to be added as the pudding steams. Once the boiling water has been added to the stock pot, cover the large pot with a lid and bring the water back to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil.

Generally speaking, you’ll need to allot at least 1 1/2 – 2 hours for the pudding to steam over medium-low heat.  This, however, is only an estimate and the true test is when a cake tester inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean.  I recommend removing the lid from the pudding mould and checking the pudding with a cake tester at the 1 1/2-hour point and then, if not cooked, about every 10 minutes after until the tester comes out clean. When the pudding is cooked, remove it from its water bath and place the mould on a wire rack.  Let the pudding rest in the mould for about 20 minutes then remove the lid from the mould and transfer the pudding to a serving plate.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

While this pudding would be well complimented by a traditional brown sugar sauce, it is particularly tasty served with a rich eggnog sauce.  For ultimate flavour, the eggnog sauce is best served lukewarm, rather than piping hot, and can actually even be served quite cool.  Because of the sauce’s richness, not a lot of the sauce is needed per serving.  If you are an eggnog lover, you will love this sauce which would be equally good served over a bread pudding, too.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

 

Steamed Cranberry Pudding

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen

½ cup butter
¾ cup granulated sugar (reserve ¼ cup for tossing with cranberries)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange rind

1½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves

2 tbsp prepared eggnog
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp Cointreau

Method:

Grease 6- or 8-cup pudding mould or spray with cooking spray.

Toss the coarsely chopped cranberries with ¼ cup of the sugar, ensuring the cut sides of the berries are coated. Set aside.

Cream butter and remaining sugar in large bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add grated orange rind.

In separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices.

In small bowl, whisk together eggnog, milk, and Cointreau.

Add dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Lastly, fold in the cranberries. Transfer batter to prepared pudding mould. Cover tightly with lid. Place mould on wire rack in large pot and fill pot with boiling water to about half way up the side of the mould. Cover steamer pot with lid and bring the water to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil. Steam the pudding over medium-low heat for approximately 1½ hours or until cake tester inserted into centre of pudding comes out clean. (NOTE: Add more water to pot as necessary to maintain the water level at about the half-way point on the pudding mould during the entire steaming process.) Remove mould from water bath and place on wire rack and let rest for 20 minutes then turn pudding out onto serving dish and serve warm with Eggnog Sauce (recipe below).

Yield: Apx. 10-12 servings

Eggnog  Sauce

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sugar
1½ – 2 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 cups prepared eggnog
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp Cointreau
2 tbsp butter

Method:

In small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg.

Pour eggnog into large microwaveable-safe bowl. Whisk in dry ingredients until smooth. Cook on HIGH until mixture is thickened to desired consistency, stirring after each 1½ minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla, Cointreau, and butter. (Note: Sauce will thicken slightly more as it cools.)

Sauce is best served lukewarm, spooned over individual slices of Steamed Cranberry Pudding.

Yield: Apx. 2 cups

Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

 

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

Yield: Apx. 10-12 servings

A tasty steamed pudding served with smooth and silky eggnog sauce

Ingredients

  • For Pudding:
  • 1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (reserve ¼ cup for tossing with cranberries)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp grated orange rind
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 2 tbsp prepared eggnog
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau
  • Eggnog Sauce Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1½ - 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups prepared eggnog
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp Cointreau
  • 2 tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Grease 6- or 8-cup pudding mould or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Toss the coarsely chopped cranberries with ¼ cup of the sugar, ensuring the cut sides of the berries are coated. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and remaining sugar in large bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add grated orange rind.
  4. In separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices.
  5. In small bowl, whisk together eggnog, milk, and Cointreau.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  7. Lastly, fold in the cranberries. Transfer batter to prepared pudding mould. Cover tightly with lid. Place mould on wire rack in large pot and fill pot with boiling water to about half way up the side of the mould. Cover steamer pot with lid and bring the water to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil. Steam the pudding over medium-low heat for approximately 1½ hours or until cake tester inserted into centre of pudding comes out clean. (NOTE: Add more water to pot as necessary to maintain the water level at about the half-way point on the pudding mould during the entire steaming process.) Remove mould from water bath and place on wire rack and let rest for 20 minutes then turn pudding out onto serving dish and serve warm with Eggnog Sauce (recipe below).
  8. Eggnog Sauce:
  9. In small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg.
  10. Pour eggnog into large microwaveable-safe bowl. Whisk in dry ingredients until smooth. Cook on HIGH until mixture is thickened to desired consistency, stirring after each 1½ minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla, Cointreau, and butter. (Note: Sauce will thicken slightly more as it cools.)
  11. Sauce is best served lukewarm, spooned over individual slices of Steamed Cranberry Pudding.
  12. Yield: Apx. 2 cups sauce
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For other steamed pudding recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the following links:

Traditional Classic Plum Pudding
Steamed Carrot Pudding


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Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

Mock Cherry Pie

Mock Cherry Pie
Mock Cherry Pie

I’m not sure of the origins of Mock Cherry Pie but my grandmother made a version of this delight when I was a small child.  Sometimes called cranberry pie, it’s not an altogether common pie (at least in my circles) these days but it is very tasty and colorful with its deep ruby red color. It lends itself well to a lattice top crust but is often made with a standard full top crust.

Mock Cherry Pie
Mock Cherry Pie

Either fresh or frozen cranberries can be used for this filling.  I like to coarsely chop up most of the cranberries for the filling but leave some whole to give texture to the filling. The idea behind chopping the cranberries in half is that it quickly releases the juice from the berries in the cooking process.  But, don’t get crazy and chop them too finely as the pie won’t have texture if the berries are ground up too fine. Adding the raisins to the filling enhances flavour complexity and also makes the filling more substantial.  The sweetness of the raisins counters the tartness of the cranberries.

The cranberries I am using in this filling came from Mikita Farms in Farmington, near Souris in the eastern part of Prince Edward Island. To my knowledge, this is the only cranberry producer that wet harvests the berries on the Island.  To see photos I took in 2014 of the wet harvesting of cranberries, click here.

Corralling the Cranberries
Corralling the Cranberries

Cranberries freeze really well so I keep a large bag of cranberries in my freezer for use year-round. This time of the year, many farm markets will have bags of these tasty berries available so don’t hesitate to pick up a bag and store them in the freezer for later use.

Fresh PEI Cranberries Charlottetown, PEI
Fresh PEI Cranberries

The key to making the filling for this pie is to get it thickened so that it does not run when the pie is cut.  It takes a little patience but is worth the effort.  It’s important to cool down the filling before putting it in the unbaked pie shell as, otherwise, it will break down the fat in the pastry causing it to be a soggy crust.  About 30-40 minutes of cooling time will be just right. Remember to stir the filling as it cools as this will help it to cool faster and also aid in its thickening.

Mock Cherry Pie
Mock Cherry Pie

This is a lovely rich dessert, perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas. A scoop of high quality vanilla ice cream goes particularly well with Mock Cherry Pie.  The wine I have selected to pair with this dessert for my Thanksgiving dinner this year comes from Benjamin Bridge Vineyards in Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia.  I discovered this wine through the 2015 PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival for which Benjamin Bridge was this year’s wine sponsor.  Benjamin Bridge wines were served at the signature culinary events during the month-long festival in September.  My wine selection is Nova 7. This is the perfect wine to pair with this dessert because it has a hint of sweetness to compliment the tartness of cranberries and a beautiful pale blush color. I think I will seriously have to go on a field trip and pay this winery a visit!

Mock Cherry Pie Paired with Benjamin Bridge's Nova 7 Wine
Mock Cherry Pie Paired with Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7 Wine

Mock Cherry Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry for 9” double pie crust

2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup sultana raisins
½ cup boiling water

1 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
Pinch salt
1/3 cup cold water

1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond flavouring
1 tbsp Cointreau
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
1 tbsp butter

Method:

Chop 1 1/3 cups cranberries in half. Leave remaining 2/3 cup whole.

In medium-sized saucepan, combine the cranberries, raisins, and boiling water. Cook over high heat to the boiling point. Reduce heat to medium and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In small bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch with 1/3 cup cold water. Whisk until smooth. Add 1-2 tbsp of the hot mixture to temper the sugar-cornstarch mixture (don’t worry if a few cranberries get scooped up, too) and pour it into the hot cranberry-raisin mixture. Stir well.

Cook over medium heat, stirring often to prevent scorching, until thickened – about 11-13 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, almond flavouring, Cointreau, grated orange rind, and butter. Stir well. Let cool for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400°. Prepare pastry for bottom crust and roll to desired thickness. Transfer pastry to a greased 9” pie plate. Trim pastry.

Pour cooled filling into crust.

Roll out pastry for top crust. If desired, cut into strips for lattice top.

Dampen edges of bottom pie crust.

Place top crust (or, alternatively, lattice strips) over filling, gently pressing the outside edges to seal to bottom crust.

Using kitchen shears, trim excess pastry.

Crimp pastry edges or press together with the tines of a fork. If using complete top crust, cut vents in pastry to allow steam to escape as the pie cooks (omit this step if using a lattice top since there are obviously already lots of spaces for the steam to escape).

Place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the lower third of the oven for 10 minutes at 400° then reduce heat to 375° and bake for 45-50 minutes longer or until the crust is lightly browned and juices start to bubble from the filling.

Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting and serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Mock Cherry Pie

Yield: 1 - 9" pie, apx. 8 servings

A rich and flavourful pie that combines cranberries and raisins with a hint of orange flavour.

Ingredients

  • Pastry for 9” double pie crust
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup sultana raisins
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond flavouring
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 1 tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Chop 1 1/3 cups cranberries in half. Leave remaining 2/3 cup whole.
  2. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the cranberries, raisins, and boiling water. Cook over high heat to the boiling point. Reduce heat to medium and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. In small bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch with 1/3 cup cold water. Whisk until smooth. Add 1-2 tbsp of the hot mixture to temper the sugar-cornstarch mixture and pour it into the hot cranberry-raisin mixture. Stir well. Cook over medium heat, stirring often to prevent scorching, until thickened – about 11-13 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, almond flavouring, Cointreau, grated orange rind, and butter. Stir well. Let cool for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°. Prepare pastry for bottom crust and roll to desired thickness. Transfer pastry to a greased 9” pie plate. Trim pastry. Pour cooled filling into crust.
  5. Roll out pastry for top crust. If desired, cut into strips for lattice top. Dampen edges of bottom pie crust and place top crust (or, alternatively, lattice strips) over filling, gently pressing the outside edges to seal to bottom crust. Trim excess pastry. Crimp pastry edges or press together with the tines of a fork. If using complete top crust, cut vents in pastry to allow steam to escape as the pie cooks (omit this step if using a lattice top since there are obviously already lots of spaces for the steam to escape).
  6. Place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the lower third of the oven for 10 minutes at 400° then reduce heat to 375° and bake for 45-50 minutes longer or until the crust is lightly browned and juices start to bubble from the filling.
  7. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting and serving.
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DSC_0824

 

 

Visit to Beamish Organic Apple Orchard and Deep Roots Distillery

Today, I’m taking you on a tour with me to Beamish Organic Apple Orchard and Deep Roots Distillery in Warren Grove, PEI. Owner, Mike Beamish, has been growing apples since 1990 when he started with 200 trees on his hobby farm near Charlottetown.

Mike Beamish Checking on his Apple Crop
Mike Beamish Checking on his Apple Crop

Mike’s goal was always to grow apples organically although he did initially grow them using conventional methods in the early years because it was difficult to find non-chemical controls for some pests. Once more research was done and non-chemical controls were available to growers, Beamish transitioned his orchard to be organic in 2003 following the standard three-year period to be certified organic. During the three-year period, no chemical applications can be used. Beamish is certified under Atlantic Certified Organics (ACO), a certification body which is accredited with the Canadian federal government. This body enforces the national organic standards such as buffer zone requirements from surrounding farms using conventional farming methods and it provides a list of approved substances that can be used in organic farming. The orchard is subject to annual audits by the ACO to ensure only approved substances and organic farming practices are used. Certified organic farmers are required to keep records of any products or substances used and the farmers must be re-certified each year.

Beamish Organic Apple Orchard, Warren Grove, PEI
Beamish Organic Apple Orchard, Warren Grove, PEI

Growing apples organically does come with its challenges since farmers don’t have access to the traditional chemical treatments non-organic apple growers can use. Beamish says the biggest challenges are dealing with pests such as bugs and rodents, disease in the trees and apples, and ensuring soil nutrition. Any products applied to the ground or trees must be certified organic products only. He counters these challenges by buying and applying organic compost around the trees, installing little ground fences around each tree to deter rodents, and hanging certified organic products in the trees to fend off pests such as moths, apple fruit flies, and railroad worms.

At one point, the Beamish Orchard had 800 apple trees; however, Island winters can be harsh and, in 1999, the orchard cut back to 500 trees in its U-pick orchard. The orchard currently has about 300 apple-producing trees. Beamish grows four varieties of apples – Red Free, Novamac, Liberty, and Freedom. The biggest seller are the Red Free, an early variety ready in mid-September.

The Red Free variety is particularly good for cooking as these apples  keep their shape and, because they are non-acidic, there is no need for a lot of sugar.

Red Free Apples
Red Free Apples

This year (2015) will mark the first year that the Beamish Orchard will not operate as a U-pick. They will still have apples for sale at the farm but, because they have reduced the number of trees in the orchard, there will not be enough apples to operate a U-pick. In addition, Beamish has also created another usage of his apple crop as he has started a distillery.

Deep Roots Distillery, Warren Grove, PEI
Deep Roots Distillery, Warren Grove, PEI

When Beamish retired three years ago from Holland College, he was looking for a retirement activity. Since he already had a ready supply of apples, he began making sweet apple cider and selling it at the Farmers Market in Charlottetown. His interest in distilling grew so he pursued a course hosted by the Bio-Food-Tech Centre in Charlottetown that focused on the science of distilling. In addition, he received some technical assistance from the New Brunswick Community College in Grand Falls. In June, 2014, Beamish obtained his license to distill and it wasn’t long before he began producing liquor, using local raw products whenever possible.

Mike Beamish at his Warren Grove, PEI, Distillery - "Deep Roots"
Mike Beamish at his Warren Grove, PEI, Distillery – “Deep Roots”

Today, Beamish has four products on the market: Island Tide (a cane-sugar spirit), Blueberry Eau de Vie, Maple Liqueur, and his newest, Camerise Haskap Liqueur.

Deeproots Distillery Products
Deeproots Distillery Products

Beamish says the Island Tide liquor moonshine, with an alcohol content of 45%, is a cross between rum and vodka and would be best suited for martinis and mojitas. Historically, much of the moonshine made in PEI was made from cane-sugar. However, with more modern distilling techniques, it is somewhat smoother than what some folks may remember!

Mike Beamish says the Blueberry Eau de Vie does not have a strong blueberry taste but rather has the essence of blueberry. It has 45% alcohol content and is best served as an after dinner beverage over ice or in a fruit-based cocktail.

The Maple Liqueur is made from New Brunswick maple syrup and, with 25% alcohol, is stronger than most liqueurs. It is also suitable as an after dinner drink or served over vanilla ice cream or in baking.

The Camerise Haskap Liqueur is a new product from the distillery and has just been released this summer.

This liqueur, with 26.5% alcohol, is made with haskap berries which come from Phyto Cultures Inc. in nearby Clyde River. This liqueur is developed using a method by which the alcohol is infused with the whole haskap berries which sit in the alcohol for four months before being crushed. The Camerise Haskap Liqueur also is an after dinner drink and is meant to be served straight over ice.

Producing liquor is government-regulated and the products have to be analyzed by a certified lab in the same way as any big brand liquors.

Boxes of product ready for shipping
Boxes of product ready for shipping

The products are labelled under the Deep Roots Distillery label and can be purchased at the Charlottetown Farmers Market and at the Distillery located at 2100 North York River Road, Route 248, in Warren Grove just outside Charlottetown. You can also find them on the shelves of many local liquor stores on the Island.

Deep Roots Distillery, Warren Grove, PEI
Sales Outlet at Deep Roots Distillery, Warren Grove, PEI

Tours of the apple orchards and the distillery are available for a nominal fee and Mike welcomes visitors to learn more about his organic apple orchard and new distillery. For more information, and hours of operation, visit the websites for Beamish Organic Apple Orchard and Deep Root Distillery.

Apple-Maple Bread Pudding
Apple-Maple Bread Pudding

As is my standard practice when I visit a local food producer, I develop a recipe using the producer’s product(s). In my Apple-Maple Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce, I have used the Red Free apples from the Beamish Orchard along with the Deep Roots Distillery Maple Liqueur.

Red Free Apples
Red Free Apples

The Red Free apples are great in this recipe because they keep their shape and don’t go to “mush” or a sauce-like consistency in the pudding which would make it too soggy. The key is to sauté the apples enough that they are softened before adding them to the pudding batter. Adding some maple liqueur as the apples sauté provides additional flavour.

It’s a matter of opinion as to whether a bread pudding should be baked in a hot water bath or not. I have made bread puddings both in a water bath and without and, to be frank, don’t see any appreciable difference in quality of the baked pudding. So, for this recipe, I did not use the hot water bath baking method and the pudding was lovely and moist.

Apple-Maple Bread Pudding
Apple-Maple Bread Pudding
Apple-Maple Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

1 – 1 lb loaf French bread
3 cups whole milk
1 cup less 1½ tbsp Blend/cream (10%)

2½ cups thinly sliced baking apples (about 3 medium-sized apples)
½ tbsp butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp maple liqueur

3 extra-large eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
Pinch cardamom
¾ cup raisins soaked in 1½ tbsp maple liqueur

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Grease or line 9”x13” pan with greased tin foil.

In large bowl, break the French bread into small pieces, crusts and all.

Pour the milk and blend (cream) over the bread.

Cover and let sit for 30 minutes then handcrush mixture until well blended.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and thinly slice the apples.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with brown sugar and sauté apples for another minute. Remove pan from heat and add liqueur. Return to heat and sauté the apples for 5-7 minutes, or until they are softened and a golden color.

In medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs well. Add the sugar and beat again. Beat in the maple syrup, melted butter, and vanilla. Add the spices and stir well. Pour over bread-milk mixture in large bowl and mix well.

Lastly, gently fold in the sautéd apples along with the raisins.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. Smooth batter evenly in pan.

Bake for about 55-60 minutes or until it springs back to a light touch and/or a cake tester (or knife) inserted into 2-3 places in the pudding comes out clean.

Remove pudding from oven and transfer pudding pan to a cooling rack to rest for 20 minutes. Slice into 12 pieces and serve warm with maple sauce (recipe below), crème anglaise, or ice cream.

Yield: 12 servings

Maple Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
dash of salt
2 cups boiling water
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp maple liqueur
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup butter

Method:

In saucepan, mix the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt together well. Add the boiling water, maple syrup, maple liqueur, and vanilla together. Mix well. Add butter. Cook until sauce boils and reaches desired consistency. Serve hot over Apple-Maple Bread Pudding.

Yield: Apx. 2½ cups

Maple Sauce on Apple-Maple Bread Pudding
Maple Sauce on Apple-Maple Bread Pudding

 

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Bread Pudding
Apple Maple Bread Pudding

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Apple-Maple Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce

Yield: 12 servings

Apple and maple flavours combine to make a delectable bread pudding

Ingredients

  • Pudding:
  • 1 – 1 lb loaf French bread
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup less 1½ tbsp Blend/cream (10%)
  • 2½ cups thinly sliced baking apples (about 3 medium-sized apples)
  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple liqueur
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • Pinch cardamom
  • ¾ cup raisins soaked in 1½ tbsp maple liqueur
  • Sauce:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • dash of salt
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp maple liqueur
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup butter

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  3. Grease or line 9”x13” pan with greased tin foil.
  4. In large bowl, break the French bread into small pieces, crusts and all. Pour the milk and blend (cream) over the bread. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes then handcrush mixture until well blended.
  5. Meanwhile, peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with brown sugar and sauté apples for another minute. Remove pan from heat and add liqueur. Return to heat and sauté the apples for 5-7 minutes, or until they are softened and a golden color.
  6. In medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs well. Add the sugar and beat again. Beat in the maple syrup, melted butter, and vanilla. Add the spices and stir well. Pour over bread-milk mixture in the large bowl and mix well.
  7. Lastly, gently fold in the sautéed apples along with the raisins. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Smooth batter evenly in pan.
  8. Bake for about 55-60 minutes or until it springs back to a light touch and/or a cake tester (or knife) inserted into 2-3 places in the pudding comes out clean.
  9. Remove pudding from oven and transfer pudding pan to a cooling rack to rest for 20 minutes. Slice into 12 pieces and serve warm with maple sauce, crème anglaise, or ice cream.
  10. To make the maple sauce, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in saucepan. Add the boiling water, maple syrup, maple liqueur, and vanilla together. Mix well. Add butter. Cook until sauce boils and reaches desired consistency. Serve hot over Apple-Maple Bread Pudding.
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Apple-Maple Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce
Apple-Maple Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce

 

Blueberry Buckle

There are so many ways to use blueberries, including an endless stream of desserts.

Blueberry Buckle
Blueberry Buckle

Today, I am featuring Blueberry Buckle using high bush blueberries that I picked at the Tryon Blueberries U-Pick in North Tryon, PEI.

DSCN0773-001

Blueberry Buckle consists of three parts: A cake base, a sprinkle of fruit, and a streusel topping.  The origin of the name “Blueberry Buckle”  is not definitively known.  However, it seems it may have something to do with the cake base rising up around the blueberries and meeting with the streusel ingredients that, together, form a crumpled or buckled looking appearance on the dessert top. Whether that’s truth or fiction, this is a tasty dessert!

A Blueberry Buckle is very similar to a coffeecake.  It is a dense cake with a moist crumb that can be served either warm or cool (i.e., at room temperature). It can also be served plain, just as it is, with its streusel topping or, alternatively, dressed up with ice cream, whipped cream, and/or drizzled with a sauce. I often serve it with brown sugar sauce or sometimes with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with blueberry sauce, as I have today. I call this blueberry overload! I maximize the use of fresh local blueberries when they are available.

Blueberry Buckle with Vanilla Ice Cream Drizzled with Blueberry Sauce
Blueberry Buckle with Vanilla Ice Cream Drizzled with Blueberry Sauce

While Buckles can be made with other fruits, the most common one is made with blueberries. This dessert also freezes well so it’s a handy one to have on hand in the freezer. When I am using it from its frozen state, I take the buckle out of the freezer and allow it to thaw at room temperature, then heat it for just a few seconds in the microwave. Tastes like it is fresh from the oven!

Blueberry Buckle

Streusel Topping:

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup flour
½ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter

Cake Batter:

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 extra-large egg
2 tbsp orange juice
¾ tsp vanilla
1½ cup all-purpose flour
2¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1½ tsp grated orange rind
½ cup milk

2 cups high-bush blueberries

Method:

Grease or line an 8” square pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare the streusel topping by mixing the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Set aside.

In large bowl, cream the butter and add the sugar. Beat until mixture is smooth.

Add the egg, orange juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cloves, nutmeg, and grated orange rind. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture along with the milk in three parts, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (i.e.,  three additions of the dry ingredients alternated with two additions of milk).

Spread batter in prepared pan.

Sprinkle mixture evening with the blueberries.

DSCN0781-001

Sprinkle the streusel topping over entire mixture.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Do not overbake as cake will become dry.

Serve plain or add a dollop of ice cream and, if desired, drizzle with blueberry sauce.

Blueberry Sauce
Blueberry Sauce

Yield: 9 servings

Here is my recipe for the blueberry sauce I used over this Blueberry Buckle.

Blueberry Sauce
Blueberry Sauce
Blueberry Sauce

¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
Pinch salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated orange rind
2 tbsp orange juice
1/3 cup water
2 cups high bush blueberries

1½ tbsp butter
¼ tsp vanilla

Method:

Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange rind, orange juice, and water in medium-sized saucepan. Heat to boiling point then add blueberries and reduce heat to medium low. Cook mixture, stirring regularly, until thickened to desired consistency. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm over ice cream or pudding. Refrigerate unused sauce.

Yield: Apx. 1¾ cups.

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Blueberry Buckle

Yield: 9 servings

A moist and flavorful coffeecake-like dessert

Ingredients

  • Streusel Topping
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • Cake Batter
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp grated orange rind
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups high-bush blueberries

Instructions

  1. Grease or line an 8” square pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare the streusel topping by mixing the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, cream the butter and add the sugar. Beat until mixture is smooth.
  4. Add the egg, orange juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
  5. In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cloves, nutmeg, and grated orange rind. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture along with the milk in three parts, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (i.e., three additions of the dry ingredients alternated with two additions of milk).
  6. Spread batter in prepared pan.
  7. Sprinkle mixture evening with the blueberries.
  8. Sprinkle the streusel topping over entire mixture.
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Do not overbake as cake will become dry.
  10. Serve plain or add a dollop of ice cream and, if desired, drizzle with blueberry sauce.
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Jelly Roll

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I grew up with jelly rolls being regularly made in my home.  They’re a quick dessert, best eaten on the day they are made.  This is because a jelly roll is really a sponge-type cake and, when the jam or jelly is spread on it, it tends to seep into the cake and after several hours can become somewhat soggy.  Jelly rolls don’t take a lot of ingredients. So long as you have basic baking supplies and some jam or jelly, you can make a jelly roll.

Here are my tips for making jelly rolls:

1.  Use cake and pastry flour as it gives a finer texture than all-purpose flour.

2. Don’t let the cake cool for too long before spreading it with jam or jelly as it may crack as you try to roll the jelly roll up. About 15-20 minutes cooling time is about right.  If you put the jam or jelly on the cake when it is still too warm, though, it will cause it to seep into the cake too quickly, creating a soggy jelly roll.

3. Use a good quality jam or jelly.  If using jam, choose one that does not have big chunks of fruit in it; otherwise,  it will make it more difficult to slice and plate presentation will not be optimal.  I prefer colorful red jams and ones that are seedless – for example, seedless raspberry jam.

4.  The jelly roll may be dusted with either granulated sugar or icing sugar.  However, icing sugar stands up better than granulated sugar which tends to dissolve into the cake more quickly.

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 Jelly Roll

1 cup + 3 tbsp cake and pastry flour
1¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond flavouring
2 tbsp cold water

¾ – 1 cup jam or jelly
Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Grease, or spray cooking oil on 10”x15” rimmed baking sheet, ensuring sides are well-greased. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray parchment paper with cooking oil.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.

Beat eggs until frothy.

Slowly and steadily add the sugar and beat until light-colored and slightly thickened.

Beat in vanilla, almond flavouring, and water.

Add the sifted dry ingredients to the egg-sugar mixture. Stir just until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 9-12 minutes or until cake tester inserted into cake comes out clean and cake springs back to a light touch. Do not overbake.

While cake is baking, lay a clean tea towel on counter and generously sprinkle with sifted icing sugar.

Remove cake from oven and run knife around all four edges to loosen cake from pan sides. Invert baked cake on sugar-dusted tea towel.

Peel off parchment paper, being careful not to tear cake.

Trim off outside edges of cake.

Rolling from the narrow end of the cake, roll up cake and tea towel together.

Transfer to wire rack and cool for about 15-20 minutes.

Carefully unroll the cake.

Spread cake with jam or jelly, leaving about ½” on sides of cake free of jam or jelly.

Using the tea towel as a guide, re-roll the filled cake.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Dust with icing sugar, cut, and serve.

Yield: Apx. 10-12 servings

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Jelly Roll - Yummy sponge cake with a red jelly/jam filling

Jelly Roll

Individual Baked Alaskas with Raspberry Coulis

Baked Alaska with Raspberry Coulis
Baked Alaska with Raspberry Coulis

One of my all-time favorite desserts is Baked Alaska. I first had Baked Alaska on a cruise many, many years ago and I have loved it ever since. Many people think Baked Alaska is difficult to make but I don’t find it is. It does, however, take a little planning and time since it is prepared in stages.  Baked Alaska can be made as a large dessert to serve several or it can be tailored down to serve one or two.  My recipe is for two individual servings, perfect for a special intimate dinner such as Valentine’s Day, or anytime as a nice treat.

There are options for the cake base of a Baked Alaska. Brownies or pound cake are my preferences and they can be either bought or homemade. I like brownies because the dark contrast is eye-appealing with a light-colored ice cream. Whatever base is used, it needs to be cut out with a 2” cookie cutter and it should have a depth of about ½” to ¾ “. Now, at first glance, this might appear to be a rather miniscule dessert but, as you’ll soon discover, the meringue adds a lot of volume to the Baked Alaska.

Choice of ice cream is important for the Baked Alaska. Choose a high quality ice cream with a high percentage cream content for this dessert because it will freeze hard. Some of the lower fat or cheaper ice creams tend to be softer and, because this ice cream is going into a 475° oven, it needs to be able to stand up for itself! Any flavour of ice cream of your choosing will work. My favorites are vanilla, coffee, or strawberry. Let the ice cream soften slightly at room temperature for 5-7 minutes before scooping it out.  You want to try and get as perfectly a round scoop as you can because this is what will give the Alaska its dome shape.

It’s important that both the cake base and the scoop of ice cream be frozen super hard so plan ahead to have them frozen for at least two hours or longer before serving time.  I use a couple of small pieces of wooden boards covered with tin foil on which to bake the Alaskas because the boards don’t heat as fast as a metal cookie sheet would which could cause the Alaskas to start to melt down too quickly in the oven.  The idea is to keep the Baked Alaskas as cold as possible.  The Alaskas are only put in the oven for 2-3 minutes solely to tan the meringue.

The Raspberry Coulis can be made a day or two ahead and kept refrigerated.

I find I have greater success with whipping egg whites for the meringue when they are at room temperature.  Allow the separated egg whites to come to room temperature for about 30-40 minutes before whipping.

It’s super important to completely cover the ice cream and base with the meringue as, otherwise, heat will reach the ice cream which will simply melt and ooze out of the Alaska when placed in the oven.  The meringue acts as an insulator of sorts which prevents the ice cream from melting for the 2-3 minutes it is in the oven.  I have found that even the smallest gap in the meringue will cause the ice cream to melt in even the short time it is in the oven.  Work as quickly as you can to apply the meringue so that the ice cream does not soften and melt.

Individual Baked Alaskas with Raspberry Coulis

Raspberry Coulis:

1¼ cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
⅓ cup sugar
¾ tsp lemon juice
1 tsp water

In medium-sized saucepan, combine all ingredients.

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Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until raspberries have broken down and released their juices.

Remove from heat and pour mixture into a fine sieve over a bowl.

Press mixture with the back of a spoon to extract as much juice as possible. Discard raspberry seeds left in the sieve.

Cover coulis tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled.

Yield: ½ cup

Baked Alaskas:

2 pieces of brownie cut into 2” circles and sliced ½“ – ¾” thick.
2 round scoops of ice cream, your favourite flavour

Meringue:

2 large egg whites, room temperature
⅛ tsp salt
⅛ tsp cream of tartar
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp almond flavouring

Line a small rimmed baking sheet with tin foil. Using the rimmed baked sheet allows for easy transport to and from the freezer and keeps the Alaska bases from accidentally sliding off.  Place the brownie circles on the baking sheet and top each with a scoop of ice cream. Place in freezer for at least 2 hours, until very firm.

At the same time, cover two small boards with tin foil and place in freezer.

When ready to prepare the dessert, place oven rack about 8” from broiler and preheat oven to 475°F.

In bowl of stand mixer, beat egg whites just until frothy then add the salt and cream of tartar.

While beating the egg whites, add the sugar slowly, about a teaspoon at a time.

Continue to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form when wire whisk is lifted from the egg whites.

Add the almond flavoring and beat for 10-15 seconds longer.

Remove brownie and ice cream rounds along with the foil-covered boards from the freezer. Transfer the brownie and ice cream rounds to the foil-covered boards.  Quickly cover the ice cream and brownie completely with the meringue.

With the tip of a knife, twirl the meringue into decorate tips.

Place the Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet for ease of transfer to and from oven.  Bake in the pre-heated oven until the meringue browns, about 2-3 minutes.

Remove from oven and plate. Drizzle with Raspberry Coulis and garnish with fresh raspberries. Serve immediately.

Serves: 2

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Raisin Puff (aka Plum Puff)

Today, I’m sharing the recipe for a real old-fashioned vintage dessert. Some of you may remember your mother or grandmother making Raisin Puff (aka Plum Puff) dessert or, perhaps, you have made it yourself.

This dessert was popular in my part of the world up until about the early 1960s but is not so common anymore. It’s one of those desserts that carries a lot of nostalgia with it. When I first mentioned that I was working on a posting for Raisin Puff, several people said they hadn’t had it in years but it brings back great memories of their childhood days when Raisin Puff was a staple in many PEI households. Some remember grandmothers making this dessert in huge pans for their large families. Others remember going to visit neighbours and being served Raisin Puff. My mother recalls her own mother always having Raisin Puff on hand. I suspect the popularity of this dessert may have been due to it being a very substantial, filling dessert that does not call for many ingredients nor any that are difficult to source. So long as one has raisins and common baking ingredients, it’s a dessert that can be made from pantry stock without having to go on a special shopping trip to the supermarket.

Raisin Puff is essentially raisin pie without the pastry crust. In its place, a cookie dough is used for the base and top into which is sandwiched a spiced, cooked raisin filling.

Following my recipe below, I will offer some tips on how to make this tasty dessert.

Raisin Puff
(aka Plum Puff)

Raisin filling:
1 lb sultana raisins
2½ cups water
1 tbsp orange juice

½ cup white sugar
3 tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter

Cookie Dough Base and Top:
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 extra-large egg
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup milk
3¼ cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp salt

Sugar for sprinkling on top crust

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Place raisins into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the water and orange juice.

Cover raisin mixture and bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat, uncover, and boil mixture gently over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix white sugar, flour, salt, and spices for the filling together.

Add dry ingredients to raisins and cook, uncovered, over medium low heat until thick, about 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly and gently to prevent scorching.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Stir well.

Place saucepan on wire cooling rack and let mixture cool completely to room temperature, stirring several times, for a couple of hours or so.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 9”x13” pan.

In large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar.

Add egg and beat well.

Add vanilla and milk and beat until incorporated.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together.

Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, a cup at a time, stirring until combined.

Transfer dough to floured flat surface and knead dough into a disk shape.

Divide the dough into two equal parts.

Form each half of the dough into a rectangular log shape.

Cut a piece of wax paper about 18” long. Sprinkle lightly with flour.

On the wax paper, roll out half of the dough into a rectangle shape the size of the pan.

Lay the pan upside down over the dough. Catch both ends of the wax paper while grabbing onto the ends of the pan and flip the pan and dough over together.

Remove the wax paper and adjust and press the dough to fit the bottom of the pan.

Spread the cooled raisin mixture evenly over the cookie dough base.

On wax paper sprinkled lightly with flour, roll out the remaining half of the dough into a rectangle shape to fit the size of the pan. By catching hold of the ends of the wax paper, carefully lift the wax paper and dough up and flip it over on to the raisin filling. Remove the wax paper. Sprinkle the crust with white sugar, if desired.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire cooling rack before cutting into 2” squares and serving.

Yield: 24 – 2” squares

 

Hints and Tips

Cooking the Raisin Filling

The one ingredient not listed in the recipe is patience! This is not a quick dessert to make. This is because the raisin mixture has to first be cooked then allowed to cool to room temperature before assembling the dessert.

Once the sugar-flour-spice mixture is added to the raisins, it is important to stir the mixture constantly to avoid scorching but do so gently so as not to break up the raisins. The raisins should keep their shape for this dessert.

Let the raisin mixture cool at room temperature as opposed to trying to speed up the cooling process by placing it in the refrigerator. The filling will thicken more as it cools slowly. The filling will be a better texture and  easier to spread if allowed to cool naturally at room temperature. This cooling process will take at least two hours (remember, I mentioned patience!).

It is important to let the mixture cool completely before spreading it on the cookie dough base because, if the mixture is too warm, it will start to melt, or break down, the composition of the cookie dough, yielding a doughy base.

Stirring the mixture occasionally as it cools will also help the filling to thicken. By the time the mixture is cool enough to spread on the cookie dough base, it should be sufficiently thick that it clings to the spoon as shown in the photo below.

Cookie Dough

The top and bottom crusts are made of a soft cookie dough which means only barely enough flour is used to be able to roll it out. Add the dry ingredients to the dough mixture, a cup at a time, blending well before adding the next cup.

Once the cookie dough mixture has been prepared, it needs to be divided into two equal parts – one for the base and one for the top. If you are able to “eyeball” the equal division, great. If not, or for more assurance that the top and bottom crusts are of equal depth, I recommend weighing each dough portion to ensure equal amounts of dough are apportioned for the two crusts. I love my kitchen scales and couldn’t get along without them.

It also helps to shape each dough portion into rectangular-shaped logs before starting to roll out the dough to fit the 9”x13” pan. This will help to shape the dough as it is being rolled out. Lightly flour a piece of wax paper about 18” long. Rolling out the dough on the wax paper will make it easier to transfer the dough to the pan as this is a very soft dough. If you try to pick up the dough in your hands to move it, it will stretch and might tear before it reaches the pan.

Try to keep the depth of the dough even as you roll it out. If the dough starts to roll out unevenly, gently “square” it up by repositioning or reshaping it with your hands. When you think it is about the size of the pan, hold the pan over the dough and make any necessary adjustments to the dough so it will fit the pan.

Place the greased pan, upside down, over the dough. Grasp both ends of the wax paper and the ends of the pan and flip the dough and pan over together at the same time. The dough will drop into the pan. Remove the wax paper and make any minor adjustments needed so the dough covers the bottom of the pan completely. Do not put any dough up the sides of the pan. Sounds easy enough – and the bottom crust is. It’s the top crust placement that’s a bit tricky.

Once the raisin mixture is cooled, evenly spread it over the base. Prepare the top crust using the same procedure as for the bottom crust. Obviously, with the raisin filling now added, the pan cannot be turned upside down over the dough! This means the dough on the wax paper needs to be flipped on top of the filling. This is one of those times where it’s important to get it right the first time as there is no opportunity to remove or re-adjust the top crust once it is placed on the sticky raisin filling and the filling needs to be completely covered with the crust. Bring the wax paper with the dough on it as close to the pan as possible. Grab both ends of the wax paper and flip the dough on to the filling, then remove the wax paper. Sprinkle a light dusting of sugar on top of the crust, if desired.

Baking

Bake the Raisin Puff in a 400°F oven on a rack positioned in the middle of the oven.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes. It’s important that the dough get baked but it is not meant to be hard. It still should have some “give” and softness to it – a fork should easily break through the crust with moderate resistance.

Cooling

Let the Raisin Puff cool completely in the pan on a wire cooling rack before cutting into 2” squares. This dessert is not a finger food because of the gooey filling so is best served plated.

Storing

Store in refrigerator.

This dessert goes particularly well with a fine cup of tea and, because it does, I’m going to pop over and join Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for her weekly teatime.

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Plum Puff
Raisin Puff

 

Old-fashioned Apple Crisp

The time has changed and the days are getting shorter.  November always seems like such a dreary month.  Living on Canada’s East Coast, it also signifies colder temperatures surely followed by the long winter.

When it gets to November, I am ready for some comfort food.  One of my all-time favorites is the traditional old-fashioned apple crisp dessert — the sweet apple flavour filling topped with a crisp, crunchy streusel. And, oh, the heavenly scent in the house when the apple crisp is baking!

Apple crisps are not hard to make and basically use pantry staples for ingredients.  The key to a really tasty apple crisp is to use a blend of apples.  I find honeycrisps, cortlands, humes, and ginger gold varieties work really well.  Using a blend of apples allows their flavours and textures to play off of each other.  The honeycrisps and cortlands are  sweet-tart, juicy apples.  The ginger golds and humes are less tart.  The cortlands and ginger golds hold their shapes particularly well when cooked so they don’t cook to mush and the apple chunks or slices are still visible in the cooked crisp, giving it a pleasing texture.

I don’t always put four varieties of apples in a crisp.  Frankly, I’ve made quite acceptable crisps with just one kind of apple.  Essentially, I use  whatever apples I have in the house and, most often, use only a couple of varieties.  The apples I have used in my apple crisp today have come from Arlington Orchards, west of Summerside, PEI.  This is a large apple orchard where many different varieties of apples are grown.  It’s an annual October trek to Arlington Orchards for us and sometimes I get carried away and come home with lots and lots of apples for eating and baking! The photo below is just a sampling!  I think I brought home seven varieties this year!

Apple crisps are best made and allowed to cool for about 30 minutes before eating.  This allows the true flavours of the apples to be appreciated when the crisp is still warm but not too hot to eat.

Apple crisp freezes very well.  I often make the crisps in individual ramekin dishes and freeze them, unbaked.  Crisps can also be frozen after they are baked, then thawed and reheated in the microwave.  However, I find there is some texture deterioration in the latter method.

Apple Crisp

Streusel Topping:
¾ cup flour
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup rolled oats
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup cold butter
¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Apple Filling:
2½ lbs apples (e.g., Cortlands, Honeycrisps, Humes, Ginger Gold, individually or in any combination mixture)
2 tsp lemon juice
⅓ cup white sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cornstarch

Method:

Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375°.

Streusel Topping: In medium-sized bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Using pastry blender, cut in cold butter until mixture is crumbly. Stir in pecans. Cover mixture and place in refrigerator while preparing apple filling.

Streusel Topping
Streusel Topping

Apple Filling: Peel, core, and cut apples into chunks about ¼”- ⅓” thick or so. Place in large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and toss to coat.