Sour Cream Quick Bread – Lemon Poppy Seed Version

Every baker needs a few good quick bread recipes, and this is one of mine. Adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe, this bread provides a great base for a number of flavor combinations, and today’s combination is lemon and poppy seed.

This bread is on its way to my friend Carrie, because now and then we all just need someone to send us baked goods, right? We’re both Eastern European, so poppy seeds are kind of the seeds of our people. Lemon poppy is a great flavor combination, of course; you could enhance this bread with a lemon drizzle icing, or just serve it with some lemon curd, whatever you like. I’m betting it will be delicious with Earl Grey tea, too.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 lemons, zest and juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan or spray with baking spray.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Combine lemon zest and juice, sour cream, egg, and vegetable oil in a medium bowl, mixing well.

Add sour cream mixture to flour mixture all at once, stirring to combine until no dry streaks remain. Your batter may look a bit dry, but that’s okay – don’t be tempted to add more liquid. Stir in poppy seeds.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, then cover with a foil tent and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Store tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days. Makes about 8 servings.

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Lemon Raspberry Macarons

Now that I’ve become a macaron-obsessed baker, I bake several batches of them at a time. It’s practical, actually, because you’ve got your food processor out already and you may as well get a few batches done at once.

It’s also practical for me because I’ve used store-bought egg whites, rather than fresh egg whites, for most of my batches. While store-bought egg whites aren’t recommended for macarons because they may not produce a meringue that’s as fluffy, I’ve found great success with them in terms of macaron texture. Store-bought egg whites last about 10 days in the fridge, so that’s another reason to bake more than one batch of macarons at a time – you can use up all your whites without any waste. These lemon raspberry macarons – one of my favorite flavor combinations of all time – turned out very well.

Ingredients

For the shells

  • 120 grams egg whites, at room temperature (from 3-4 large eggs)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 40 grams superfine sugar, sifted (about 3 tablespoons)*
  • 200 grams powdered sugar (about 2 cups)
  • 100 grams almond flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Yellow gel food coloring

For the filling

Preparation

Line three large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine powdered sugar and almond flour and pulse for about 30-45 seconds. Sift into a large bowl, discarding any large bits, and set aside.

Place egg whites and salt in clean, dry, grease-free bowl. Using the whisk attachment, whip egg whites on low speed, then increase to medium/medium-high speed and whip until egg whites are foamy and no longer translucent. Slowly add superfine sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, whipping until stiff peaks form. Add lemon extract and a few drops of your desired food coloring. Whip again to combine, but be careful not to over-whip; you still want stiff peaks but don’t want to take the meringue too far and have it become grainy.

Add 1/3 of your dry ingredients at a time and fold in with a spatula, turning the mixture about 15 times with each addition, being very careful not to over-mix. The batter is mixed enough when it is sticky and smooth, and you can make an unbroken figure 8 with the batter as it drips off your spatula.

Place batter into a large piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Holding the bag upright, pipe rounds of batter about 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto the parchment, leaving about 2 inches between each circle. Gently tap or drop your baking sheets onto a counter top or table to release any air bubbles.

Let batter sit for about 30-60 minutes; the tops will form a skin that becomes dry to the touch.

To bake the macaron shells, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake one sheet at a time, for about 17 minutes, checking halfway; the macarons should form “feet” on the bottoms, but have smooth tops. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets.

Once macarons are cool, flip half the macarons onto their tops and pipe or spread filling on the bottom, then top with another macaron. Store in an airtight container at least overnight before serving.

Coconut Lime Macarons

What’s the difference between a macaroon and a macaron? In a few words, coconut and almonds…and also how you say it. Macaroons (mac-uh-ROONS) are coconut-based, either made by folding coconut into meringue or combining it with sweetened condensed milk. Macarons (mac-uh-RONNS) are almond-based, made by folding a combination of finely sifted powdered sugar and almond flour into a meringue.

I’ve made coconut lime macaroons before, so why not coconut lime macarons? These treats have a wonderful flavor profile, and were a big hit with Mike’s coworkers.

Ingredients

For the shells

  • 120 grams egg whites, at room temperature (from 3-4 large eggs)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 40 grams superfine sugar, sifted (about 3 tablespoons)*
  • 200 grams powdered sugar (about 2 cups)
  • 100 grams almond flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • Green gel food coloring

For the lime curd filling

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 6 tablespoons butter

Preparation

Line three large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine powdered sugar and almond flour and pulse for about 30-45 seconds. Sift into a large bowl, discarding any large bits, and set aside.

Place egg whites and salt in clean, dry, grease-free bowl. Using the whisk attachment, whip egg whites on low speed, then increase to medium/medium-high speed and whip until egg whites are foamy and no longer translucent. Slowly add superfine sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, whipping until stiff peaks form. Add coconut extract and a few drops of your desired food coloring. Whip again to combine, but be careful not to over-whip; you still want stiff peaks but don’t want to take the meringue too far and have it become grainy.

Add 1/3 of your dry ingredients at a time and fold in with a spatula, turning the mixture about 15 times with each addition, being very careful not to over-mix. The batter is mixed enough when it is sticky and smooth, and you can make an unbroken figure 8 with the batter as it drips off your spatula.

Place batter into a large piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Holding the bag upright, pipe rounds of batter about 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto the parchment, leaving about 2 inches between each circle. Gently tap or drop your baking sheets onto a counter top or table to release any air bubbles.

Let batter sit for about 30-60 minutes; the tops will form a skin that becomes dry to the touch.

While your macarons are resting, make your lime curd. Lightly beat egg yolks and pass them through a fine sieve to remove the albumin. Set aside in a medium bowl close to the stove for easy access; thoroughly wash your sieve and place it nearby for a second straining once the curd has cooked.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, lime juice, and lime zest until completely combined. Add butter and cook on medium heat until thickened and bubbly.

Working quickly, pour about half of the hot lime mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper. Pour egg mixture back into the pan and cook and stir for 2 minutes more.

Pour mixture through your sieve to remove the zest. To cool the curd quickly, I pour mine onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread it out, then once it’s cool I place it in an airtight container.  According to various food safety websites and other food blogs, lemon curd should last in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

To bake the macaron shells, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake one sheet at a time, for about 17 minutes, checking halfway; the macarons should form “feet” on the bottoms, but have smooth tops. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets.

Once macarons are cool, flip half the macarons onto their tops and pipe or spread filling on the bottom, then top with another macaron. Store in an airtight container at least overnight before serving. You’ll have some filling left over, so you can save it for something else (or just spread it on graham crackers, which is what I usually do with leftover frostings/fillings).

Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread in March? Yes! Thanks to canned pumpkin puree, I bake with pumpkin throughout the year. This recipe is an adaptation of pumpkin pecan streusel bread, simply using miniature cinnamon baking chips instead of pecans and streusel.

I got my mini chips at King Arthur Flour, which offers a great variety of ingredients. My chips melted during baking, as you can see from the photo to the left; they left behind sort of ghost marks of where they’d been, but that didn’t stop their flavor from permeating the loaf. This is an excellent recipe, easy to bake and very tasty when done. You could leave the loaf plain, but I find that the allspice glaze really adds more depth of flavor to this treat.

Ingredients

For the bread

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus an extra dash if you like
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup miniature cinnamon chips

For the allspice drizzle

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2-3 teaspoons water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 x 4 or 9 x 5 loaf pan or spray with baking spray; I used a 9 x 5 for this recipe.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

In a separate, medium-sized bowl whisk melted butter, eggs, and pumpkin puree until well-combined.

Add pumpkin mixture to dry mixture and stir to incorporate so that no dry streaks remain, then stir in cinnamon chips.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. You’ll want to check the bread around 35-40 minutes and may want to cover it with a foil tent to prevent over-browning.

Remove from oven and cool in loaf pan for about 30 minutes, then remove from pan and place on a wire rack. Cool another 15 minutes, then make the drizzle: in a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and allspice. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring until you have a smooth, thick drizzle. Pour drizzle into a medium-sized zip-top bag; snip the corner, then pipe drizzle over top of bread (or just spoon it on if you prefer).

Allow to cool completely before serving; store well-wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Almond Meringues

Last night I had three leftover egg whites, but not the energy to make macarons. So I made meringues instead, and now I wish I’d just gone ahead and made macarons because, truth be told…I’m not that big a fan of meringues.

Yes, yes, I totally need meringue practice. It’s good to work with things that aren’t as familiar, and I admit that the combination of egg whites, salt, cream of tartar, flavoring, and sugar that becomes an ethereal cloud of meringue-ness is something with which I need much more experience. But flavor and texture-wise, they’re not something I’d necessarily choose if there were other treats nearby.

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • dash of salt
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites, almond extract, cream of tartar, and salt on low, then medium speed, until foamy. Slowly add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, whipping on medium-high speed between each addition. Continue adding the sugar slowly and whipping until meringue is glossy and forms stiff peaks; this can take about 7-10 minutes.

Fit a large piping bag with a star tip and carefully spoon meringue into the bag; you don’t want to knock all the air out of it. Pipe meringue onto parchment in 2-inch blobs, leaving about 1 to 1 1/2 inches between each cookie. They won’t spread, but you want enough room for the heat and air to circulate around them.

Bake meringues for 40-45 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave them inside for another hour. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets; store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 30 cookies.

 

Clover Bites

Once again, shortbread comes through as a versatile treat. One of the things I like most about my shortbread recipe, which is based on one from King Arthur Flour, is that it’s delicious on its own but also so easy to dress up. Add extract of nearly any flavor, toss in some citrus extract, tint your dough a fun color, add sprinkles, drizzle it with chocolate; no matter what you do, you really can’t go wrong.

These clover bites – flavored with almond, tinted green, and sprinkled with green sugar – are on their way to Maryland for my favorite little leprechauns as part of their (slightly belated) St. Patrick’s Day package. Shortbread ships very well because it’s fairy sturdy, but I strongly recommend padding your container with some waxed paper, or even bubble wrap, to prevent breakage.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 5 ounces (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) flour
  • Green gel food coloring
  • Green sugar sprinkles

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and almond extract. Add flour and beat to combine completely, then add enough food coloring to reach your desired shade of green. The dough will be ready when it pulls away from the sides of your mixing bowl, but you may need to knead it a bit with your hands to make sure the food coloring gets distributed evenly.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls, placing about 2 inches apart on your baking sheets. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with green sugar.

Bake for 25-27 minutes, until edges are set. Remove from oven and cool for about 3 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes about 16 cookies.

Mochaccino Bars

People sometimes ask me whether I still bake with things I can’t eat because of migraine life, like chocolate or coffee. Of course I do! I wouldn’t want to deprive others of these amazing flavors just because I avoid them.

These mochaccino bars are adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe, and they’re very easy to make. You could leave them plain, without the chocolate, for simpler cappuccino bars, or drizzle them with a melted chocolate icing if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan or spray with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt; set aside.

Measure out heavy cream into a glass measuring cup and stir in espresso powder; set aside.

In your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat eggs until light-colored and thick. Add the sugar and beat until glossy and thickened; this takes about 4-5 minutes. Add the vanilla and melted butter and beat to combine. Stir in the flour and salt.

Set aside 1 1/2 cups of batter; pour espresso cream into remaining batter and beat to combine. Pour espresso batter into the baking pan, then top with spoonfuls of plain batter. Use a knife to marble the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges pull away from the pan slightly and the center is set. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips; let them melt slightly for a few minutes, then spread with an offset spatula to cover the top of the bars completely. Note: if you just sprinkle the top of the bars with the chips, they don’t melt completely and once they harden again, they’ll fall off when the bars are cut.

Allow bars to cool completely; cut into squares. Store, covered, at room temperature.

Makes 24 bars.