Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake: A Sweet Bitter Cake for a Sweet Bitter Feeling.

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Some days are just bad. You wake up feeling blue and it continues until you finally stop moping and DO SOMETHING about it. I feel that way a lot recently – looking for work is a challenging and depressing venture with a lot of grasping straws and missed opportunities, or worse just not being good enough. That’s how I feel most of the time, not good enough. I keep hoping that something will change with every job application I submit but with every rejection (and there are a lot) I just feel overwhelmed. I feel like finding full time work that I find meaningful isn’t going to happen. So I retire to my kitchen and I bake. I listen to music and empty my mind a bit. The repetition of measuring, mixing, kneading, frosting – whatever is soothing and comforting. Like cuddling up to a good book, I know that kitchen time can make me feel better. So I try to force myself into the kitchen to bake, or cook, or just… be.

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This cake is one of those I need to bake cakes. It got me into the kitchen and out of my head – singing along to some good music and methodically measuring out ingredients. I was soothed by the repetition – also the leftover grapefruit syrup, which made a delicious cocktail. I was calmed by the familiarity. Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of grad school, but, honestly, I was not such a great student in college – my grades will hinder my grad school chances. How do I resolve that? I’ve been thinking going back to school for another BA, this was met by vehement and loud nos from all my grad school graduate friends. But I’m at a loss. I just feel not good enough for anything. Maybe I’ve lost perspective. Or maybe I should just eat more cake.

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I should eat more of this cake. It’s not too sweet so you can eat a lot of it without falling into a sugar coma and with the grapefruit comes a subtle tang of bitterness that makes it a standout in really decadent ways. But – there’s no butter, it’s an olive oil cake and the citrus in it is only enhanced by the fruity oil. It fits exactly what I’m looking for in a cake right now – it’s unassuming and it delivers a lovely punch. It is a cake for tea time or dessert or breakfast or elevensies (the dictionary for WordPress tells me this is not a word. WordPress you are WRONG). Make it. Eat it. Indulge in it. But make extra of the grapefruit syrup and make a gin cocktail with it. I’ll come help you drink it.

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I actually didn’t change a thing from Joanne’s recipe over on her blog, Eats Well With Others (she waited for her cake to cool completely before glazing, I didn’t – my time was tight). So just follow that. Then send me some of the cake. I could use a touch of sweet in my life.

Dairy Free Pumpkin-Pecan Scones


Hello! I’m back and this time WITH SCONES. I’m sorry I know I’ve been absentee for two months (Ah!). I’ve been busy – I got a new job (two actually) that I think about a lot and my summer has been, well, a bit lazy. I haven’t been cooking so much. But, today marks the beginning of fall. So a new season means a fresh slate, and pumpkin, and apples, and nutmeg, and all the lovely flavors of fall. I can’t WAIT to get into the kitchen and start cooking, so here’s hoping I can come back here rejuvenated and full of new recipes for everyone. So, here you go, starting NOW: Pumpkin scones – WITHOUT DAIRY.
I am as accepting of a challenge as the next person (unless it’s squishy, or slimy, or in general unpleasant – then no, just no). So when BF’s family was visiting recently and his father requested scones made without dairy my mind started whirring, in that way it does.  I started thinking about butter alternatives (which seems like some sort of blasphemy coming from me) for BF’s dad, of course.  I pulled down books I loved, I searched blogs, and I checked my shelves for a semi-solid fat alternative, preferably with a good flavor. And then, I found it.  A can of coconut milk that had been sitting unshaken in my pantry.

I grabbed it almost immediately and started modifying the recipe I was thinking on.  Pumpkin (ok, I used Squash), cinnamon, coconut cream, flour, leavener, sugar – I was good to go.  I’ve been making these scones for about two months now.  They’re a little sweet and with a nice tartness from the berries. I love them.  BF loves them.  BF’s dad loves them.  They are universally loved.  These are best enjoyed with a debaucherous amount of butter, or jam, if butter’s not your thing.

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Raspberry Scones
Note: I love these scones and I will continue to make more of them without butter in the future. This recipe is adapted from one in The Best Quick Breads by Beth Hensberger, which is a book I can’t recommend highly enough. Especially if you like sweet breads. It’s perfect.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 Tbs dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pie spice (or make your own with what you’ve got on hand)
  • 6 Tbs Coconut cream the fatty heavy stuff on the top on a can of unshaken coconut milk)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries, I use raspberries or dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (use the water from th can after you’ve gotten the cream from on top)
  • 1 tsp apple-cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I use One-Pie Squash, because it’s my favorite and canned in Maine from Maine pumpkins)
  • Cinnamon-Sugar
  • 1 egg gently beaten (for brushing the scones with)
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment.
  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spice. Mix until evenly combined.
  • Cut in the coconut cream – the mixture will look a little loose, it’s ok go with it. The nice thing about using coconut cream here instead of butter is that it doesnt require the labor that butter will to cut in. you should just be able to stir it with a fork and get nice little bits of fat.
  • Mix in the pecans.
  • In a small bowl (I usually just use a two cup measure) combine the pumpkin, coconut water, cider vinegar, and 1 egg. beat this with a fork until it comes together.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Mix until everything just comes together.
  • Fold the raspberries in, gently.
  • Using a large cookie scoop, spoons work too, measure out the scones (I use a 2 oz cookie scoop, it makes my life easier). Place the scones on a cookie sheet 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart.
  • Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
  • Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Serve these warm. With a smear of butter and coffee. They make a great afternoon snack later, too!
  • Enjoy!

Practically Perfect Tropical Muffins

I don’t make muffins much.  I think I’ve mad them 10 or 15 times in my life.  I like muffins a lot actually – to the point where I will seek them out if I hear that a place makes good ones (Mostly Muffins in Colebrook, NH makes some that are spectacular).  But I don’t bother with them.  I find mine to be dry most of the time or the crumb is weird or the texture is just off putting in general or there’s not enough fruit (or too much fruit).  But these muffins, these are a force to be reckoned with.

These are best hot, though I’m the only statement to that fact since I’m the only one that tried them hot.  But the kiwi and mango get almost syrupy when these muffins are fresh from the oven, a jam like fruit texture and an undertone of coconut.  These are indeed tropical, though if you want other fruit go ahead and swap that in a peach in place of the kiwi would be stellar or pineapple for the mango is a genius idea. I love the versatility here – working with a good base is such an important component to baking.  From measuring flour to getting that perfect dome on top; muffins are only as good as their delicious cake-like base.  These muffins have that base.

I wasn’t the only one that adored these muffins though, BF declared them extraordinary and  two year old asked to bring the leftovers home (he also asked for Kaylee but I had to draw the line somewhere).  I also ate like four of these, which is something I never do. Yes I bake a lot and yes I do tend to eat a lot but mostly I foist off my baked goods on BF co-workers and other random people that appreciate a good dose of butter.

Practically Perfect Tropical Muffins

Note: These are and original recipe though I used ratios and suggestions from The Best Quick Breads for this recipe.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 coconut cream (if you get a can of coconut milk and don’t shake it there will be cream right on top of the water inside – use that)
  • 3/8 cup (6 Tbs) sugar
  • 2 kiwi, chopped into 1/4-1/2 inch dice
  • 1 – 6 oz container greek yogurt (I like Mango Chobani but plain would work too)
  • 2 eggs
  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Combine the flour, coconut, powder, soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix until everything is even – the mix will be a light brown (from the cinnamon).
  • In a large bowl whisk the sugar and coconut cream together until fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and yogurt to the creamed sugar/coconut cream mixture.
  • Add the fruit to the liquids and stir to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed – it will be a little chunky.
  • Scoop into a lined and greased muffin pan, fill the muffin liners right up to the top. Makes 12 large muffins
  • Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes until they are golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
  • Eat these muffins while still warm, they are best that way.

Honeyed Nectarine Oatmeal Pancakes

Sometimes you need to make delicious food on a rainy Sunday morning, it’s something that makes all gloomy days brighter.  I love these pancakes on any weekend morning, they are nutty and wonderful with a flavor that is only enhanced by the addition of nectarines and a cup of delicious coffee.  I don’t make these often, and usually save them for a special occasion when someone who leans toward gluten-free food is coming to my apartment for brunch, but when I do make them there are very rarely leftovers.

Specifically, I made these pancakes over Easter weekend when BF’s parents were visiting.  His dad was bowled over, I’ve been getting a weekly email for this recipe to be posted since.  There are various reasons this post didn’t go up earlier, bad pictures being the big one but also a lack of oats in my house as a contributing factor.  But, when there were finally oats in my house (again) and time was on my side I made these gems but, of course, I modified them to be better than the ones I had been making.  I added nectarines.  I would have added peaches but when I went to Russo’s the peaches were unripe and hard as rocks, so I grabbed white nectarines which were fragrant and perfectly ripe.
I made these pancakes thinking there would be leftovers for a “later-in-the-day” snack, what a fool I was.  When topped with nectarine infused maple syrup BF couldn’t stop eating them, and I liked them spread with a bit of butter and rolled up like a crepe.  The nuttiness of the oats really enhances the whole pancake, please use the oat flour – you really won’t regret it, the pancakes are still light and fluffy even in their gluten-free state.  Yes, you have to prepare for these pancakes, but it’s totally worth it.  After sitting overnight in buttermilk the oats break apart and offer a tenderness that absorbs the honey making them not to sweet and decadent without actually being decadent.  Make these for a friend, they’ll love you for it.
Honeyed Nectarine Oatmeal Pancakes
Adapted from The Inn at Fordhook Farm via Orangette
Note: I make these pancakes entirely gluten-free by using oat flour and I like them better that way.  I also use honey instead of refined sugar since I feel like it really brings out the flavor in the oatmeal.  I laid thin slices of nectarine on top of these pancakes but next time I make these with a stone fruit I’ll probably just chop the fruit and add it to the batter.
2 cups Buttermilk
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 cup Oat Flour
2 Tbs Honey
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 large Eggs
1/2 cup Butter, melted and cooled
1 Nectarine, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
The Night Before:
Combine the buttermilk and oats in a medium sized mixing bowl, stir, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
The Next Morning:
Remove the buttermilk and oats from the fridge and set it aside.  In a second bowl whisk together the oat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the honey, eggs, and melted butter to the oats and buttermilk mixture, mix until fully combined.  Add the dry ingredients to the liquids and stir until fully combined.  Fold in the nectarine pieces.  The batter will be thick.  Warm a skillet/griddle to a medium-high heat and brush/spray it with vegetable oil.  Drop the batter onto the griddle by scant 1/4 cup fulls onto the pan.  Cook the pancakes until bubbles start to form on the edges and the underside is lightly browned.  Flip the pancakes and cook the second side until it is browned.  Repeat, until all the batter is gone.  This makes 12-15 pancakes.  And they are delicious.  Serve the pancakes warm, with real maple syrup (I chopped a second nectarine and added it to my maple syrup, it was amazing).  You will definitely not be sorry for the time these took.  I promise.