I am so behind planning my Father’s Day menu! I was just a lazy bones in Mexico last week and for some reason didn’t really have Father’s Day on the brain, but now here it is, coming up in 5 quick little days. I have my father coming into town this weekend which is an extra special treat. Most Father’s Day menus I’ve seen floating on the web all focus on the grill. If I didn’t know any dads, I would assume from Pinterest that they are all obsessed with huge slabs of grilled steak. And beer. And maybe most of them are! But that is not the way to my husband’s heart or my father’s. And it’s probably better that way since my husband inherited off-the-charts cholesterol levels and my dad has had his share of arterial plaque. Oy. I think I’ll make a fruit dessert!!
Truth be told, my husband loves fruit desserts, especially pies and crisps. And cobblers and crumbles. And tarts. Wink, wink. In my May classes this year, I taught this absolutely delicious (and pretty clean fruit buckle.) You have surely heard of the other desserts I mentioned, but most people have no idea what a buckle is. And neither did I a year ago. But my life was incomplete without it.
A buckle is more cake-like than crisps and crumbles and cobblers. In fact, I liken a buckle to a coffee cake but with double or triple the fruit. Whereas I have seen pictures of buckles with varying amounts of fruit, all buckles have some sort of a streusel or textured topping, which makes the cake looked “buckled.” I absolutely love fruit desserts because I absolutely love fresh fruit, but also because you can swap different fruit according to the season and make cool combinations of fruits, too. I never over-sweeten fruit desserts because I like the true fruit flavor to shine through and not be muddled by too much sugar. The most popular (and best) fruit to use in a buckle are blueberries. Because the cake contains so much fruit, it can get a bit wet with too many peaches, strawberries or plums. Blueberries aren’t overly juicy and they’re skins make them a little heartier. In the recipe I photographed here, I used half blueberries, one quarter raspberries and one quarter blackberries.Continue reading
I haven’t lived in a cold climate since I was in college, which was a loooong time ago. Sure, several times a year I visit my family in New York and we ski in Utah, but it is not the same as being there 24/7 for months on end. I am much better off in Southern California because I have never been nor will I ever be a cold weather person. Even when I was growing up in New York, I loathed winter. No matter how much I bundled up, I felt miserable when the temperature dipped below 40. I remember sneaking into the hallway many a night and turning up the thermostat to 80 degrees and then turning it down as soon as I woke up in the morning. My mother inevitably said to my father, “I was so warm last night!” And now, 30 years later, my parents finally know why the heat in our house was so wacky.
I was walking in a parking lot (in LA) a few days ago, and I overheard someone say “Boy, it’s really chilly today!” Um, it was 58 degrees at the time. Perhaps cold is relative, but even I’m not that lame. I sympathize with all of you suffering through the polar vortex of 2014. I pray that the temperature becomes reasonable sometime soon.
If I lived in impossibly cold weather right now, I would probably move into the kitchen and bake and make soups all day long. If you like the way I think, give this simple little coffeecake a try. I found the recipe on epicurious.com four years ago and “cleaned” it up a tad with a whole grain flour and an unrefined sweetener. You have to like coconut to enjoy this cake because you’ll be using three different coconut products here. No complaints from me. The actual cake is so moist, even when using whole grain flours like spelt or whole wheat pastry flour. Even though unrefined flours contain more fiber and protein than “white” flours, I actually prefer the taste which is a littler nuttier. But if it’s not your thing, you can use all-purpose flour here just the same. But it’s really the top of the cake that is the best. Just picture crispy, golden flakes of coconut mixed with soft chunks of bittersweet chocolate — RIGHT?! Heaven.
I think this cake is perfect for brunch because it’s not too sweet, but you could easily serve this for dessert with a little ice cream and/or some berries or oranges. Although if the windchill is below 0 degrees where you are, pair this with some hot tea, crank up the thermostat, and call it a day.
1 ¾ cups whole spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour*
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (use Earth Balance to make this dairy-free)
¾ cup pure grade A maple syrup or cane sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (I like Native Forest and Natural Value, which are BPA-free)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate bars, broken into ½-inch irregular pieces, divided (or you can buy chocolate pieces)
½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9” springform pan** and dust pan with flour, shaking out excess. You can also line the pan with parchment paper if you like.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Stir in shredded coconut and set aside.
Using an electric mixer beat butter and maple syrup in a large bowl until combined. It will be lumpy. Add eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 additions alternating with coconut milk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Fold in half of the chocolate.
Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate pieces over batter, and then sprinkle with flaked coconut.
Bake cake until golden and tester inserted comes out clean, tenting with sheet of foil if coconut atop cake is browning too quickly, 45-50 minutes.
Transfer cake to rack and cool 45 minutes before removing from pan.
*For a gluten-free version, use the following in place of the wheat flour: ½ cup sweet rice flour ½ cup brown rice flour 5 Tablespoons potato starch ¼ cup sorghum flour 3 Tablespoons tapioca flour 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
**You can use a regular 9-inch cake pan, but inverting the cake makes a bit of a mess with the coconut. Just a heads-up.
The original recipe called for 2 teaspoons of orange zest, which I thought was a nice touch, but my family didn't like it. If you love coconut and you want this to really taste like a Mounds Bar, you can add a ½ teaspoon coconut extract to the batter which just makes it a little more coconutty. And if you want this to taste like an Almond Joy bar, add a ⅛ teaspoon of almond extract to the batter!
Huh??? What is an apple-dipped pancake? I know. It’s really the silliest name, but I didn’t want to call these beauties “apple pancakes” because that makes me think of something that these are not. These are better than just dropping a few pieces of diced apple into pancake batter or using apple cider instead of milk. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. These are literally slices of apple dipped in pancake batter and then cooked so there’s a tender apple slice nestled inside the pancake. Beyond delicious!!! The first time I made these, Mr. Picky asked, “Mom, I can’t figure out how you got the apple in there.” And then he ate six. And then I ate six. And so did everyone else in the kitchen because they all woke up to the house smelling like apple cinnamon doughnuts. Deep inhale. Can you imagine that? Heaven.
Here’s the deal — even though I am sharing a fantastic spelt pancake batter with you that is perfection with apple slices, you can dip apples into whatever pancake batter you like. Just add a little cinnamon and nutmeg so you get that apple pie thing going on. The only trick is to slice your apples just so. Not too thick or they’ll stay crunchy in the middle. But not too thin or you’ll have a hard time dipping them into the batter without breaking. You can use a skewer or a toothpick to dip them in and out, but I found my fingers to be perfectly fine for the task.
My husband observed that these pancakes hold their heat longer because of the apples. So you can make a whole bunch at once and have them ready for everyone for breakfast. I know you may think these are impossible on a weekday, but if you start making your pancake batter the night before , these are a snap in the morning!