Tag Archives: baking

TWD: Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

Happy Tuesday! I hope those of you in the United States enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend. We had unseasonably rainy weather, so we didn’t get out as much as we had hoped. It was kind of like a typical Memorial Day weekend in the Pacific Northwest!

For Tuesdays with Dorie this week, we made a delicious cake called Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake. I made it for my parents last weekend when they were here to babysit.

This cake is exactly what the name suggests: an upside-down cake, with rhubarb in the fruit layer and a brown sugar-based cake. What makes this cake so good is that the rhubarb is sauteed in lightly caramelized sugar before being placed in the bottom of the cake pan.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

I went the simple route when serving my cake. I did not use the optional glaze, nor did I adorn the cake in any way. Dorie’s suggestions of whipped cream or crème fraîche and sliced strawberries would be wonderful. Vanilla ice cream would be good too.

This cake was a huge hit! My parents love rhubarb desserts, so my Mom plans on making this one again. My daughter scarfed her serving down. I loved the flavor of the brown sugar cake with the sweet-tart rhubarb. The cake was moist, but light. A winner!

Altitude Adjustments

I made two minor adjustments to the cake layer for my altitude and dry climate:

  • Reduced baking powder by 1/8 teaspoon
  • Added 1 tablespoon water

They must have worked, because the cake was wonderful!


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TWD: Nutella Buttons

Nutella Buttons
Happy Tuesday! It’s been a while since I did a Tuesdays with Dorie post, but I couldn’t resist these little Nutella-filled cupcakes called Nutella Buttons.

These were fun little cupcakes to make, and very easy to whip up. They are a simple, vanilla-flavored cupcake made light and tender by folding in whipped egg whites. The fun surprise is the dab of Nutella in the middle of the cupcake!

Nutella Buttons

I like that the cake is not too sweet; it provides a perfect foil for the sweeter Nutella. I also like that the recipe does not make too many mini-cakes. I got only 19 cakes out of my mini-muffin pan. Perfect for every day snacking!

Altitude Adjustments

None! With all those whipped egg whites (4 total) and only a small amount of baking powder, I did not have to make any adjustments to this recipe. Yay!

Nutella Buttons

If you are interested in baking Nutella Buttons, you can find the recipe on Page 188 of Dorie Greenspan’s latest book, Baking Chez Moi. I also found the recipe here (this link also includes and interview with Dorie).


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TWD: Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

Happy Tuesday! My daughter is on Spring Break this week, so she helped me make this Tuesdays with Dorie treat. We made Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars.

The base of these bars is a simple, buttery brown sugar-based dough. It is spread in an 8″x8″ pan and baked until it turns golden brown.  I had the benefit of making these a week late, and learned that many people found their base over-cooked when following the baking times specified in the recipe.  I baked mine for 15 minutes and then checked it.  It was bubbling and golden brown, so I took it out early.

Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

Next, we sprinkled chocolate chips on top of the cookie base.  My daughter helped with this step, and only ate two of the chocolate chips! After the chocolate melted, I spread it evenly over the bars.

Next, the Caramelized Rice Krispies. Oh, those Caramelized Rice Krispies! You could make just the rice krispies and be perfectly happy.  I think Dorie knew what she was doing when she had us use only half the Caramelized Rice Krispies recipe. You wouldn’t have enough to cover the bars otherwise, because the cook would eat too many of the rice krispies before they made it onto the top of the bars!

Yummy Bar

These bars are really good!  My daughter had a little trouble eating these with the crispy topping, but once I picked the crisps off, she was was perfectly happy eating the chocolatey, buttery bar. Dorie suggests other toppings for these instead of the rice krispies, and I think coconut would be especially good.

So far I have loved everything I have made from Baking Chez Moi. If you haven’t bought it yet, go run out and get it!


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TWD: Lemon Madeleines

Lemon Madeleines

Happy Tuesday!  I’m back with another installment of Tuesdays with Dorie.  This week we made Lemon Madeleines!  I was excited about this one.

These were a basic Madeleine recipe, with the addition of lemon zest in the batter, and an optional lemon glaze. Dorie taught us a few techniques to help achieve the iconic Madeleine “bump”, specifically, chilling the batter and pan, and preheating the oven with a baking sheet in it.

Lemon Madeleines

I left off the lemon glaze, mostly because I thought the little cakes would keep better without it.  The lemon flavor of the finished Madeleines was very subtle; I’m sure it would be more pronounced with the glaze.  I think you could easily leave out the zest and have a classic vanilla Madeleine.

I did not get the classic bump, though my cakes were nicely rounded.  They had a lovely, light texture.  I have to confess I have never had professionally-made Madeleines, but the texture and flavor of these was so nice, I have to think it was close to “the real thing”. These are by far the best Madeleines I have ever made.

Lemon Madeleines

Altitude Adjustments

I have mentioned before that I have to made adjustments to cake recipes because of my higher elevation.  I made two small adjustments to this recipe and they seem to have worked well (except for my missing the bump).  These are my changes for an elevation of 4500 feet:

  • Added 1 tablespoon flour
  • Reduced baking powder by 1/8 teaspoon

If you live at a higher elevation and need help with your cakes, I highly recommend the book High Altitude Baking: 200 Delicious Recipes & Tips for Great Cookies, Cakes, Breads & More.


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FFWD: Croquants


Happy French Friday!  We’re taking a break from the fishiness this week with a super simple cookie called Croquants.

Croquants are a crisp and crunchy cookie made from nuts, sugar, egg whites, and a small amount of flour.  Almonds and hazelnuts are the most commonly used nuts in Croquants, but I used Dorie’s “house favorite” salted cashews.

These might really be the fastest, easiest cookies I have ever made.  Mixing up the ingredients took about two minutes with a bowl and spatula.  No need to haul out the mixer!


I loved these little cookies.  They are light as air and very crisp. The flavor reminds me of something, but I can’t put my finger on it. Using the cashews was a good call, but I imagine they would be very good with almonds too.

Have a great weekend!

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie.


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TWD: Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

It’s time for another Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Baking Chez Moi!  I was really looking forward to this one: Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake.  I love simple vanilla-flavored cakes, so this sounded right up my alley.

What makes this recipe special is the brown butter and the vanilla bean.  Sure, it would be good with “unbrowned” butter and vanilla extract, but the inclusion of these two ingredients really adds oomph and complexity to the flavor.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

As expected, I loved this cake! The flavor, the texture, everything about it. The tender but sturdy crumb was surrounded by a lightly crunchy crust. While I loved this cake on it’s own, it would be wonderful as a base for strawberry shortcake, or any recipe calling for pound cake.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Cake

Altitude Adjustments

I live at an elevation of about 4500 feet, so I usually have to adjust cake recipes so they rise properly.  The adjustments I made seemed to work well.  Here’s what I did:

  • Reduced the baking powder by 1/8 teaspoon
  • Added an extra tablespoon of cream
  • Added a tablespoon of 1% milk

Note: I did not use the optional rum.  If I had, I probably would not have added as much extra liquid.


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TWD: Granola Energy Bars

Granola Energy Bars

I am happy to report that things have gotten back to normal around here.  It’s always nice to return to normalcy and routine after the holidays.

Tuesdays with Dorie is kicking off the new year with a healthy recipe from Baking Chez Moi: Granola Energy Bars.  Have you ever made your own granola bars?  I did once before, and while they tasted good, they were too crunchy and crumbly. I was very excited to give Dorie’s recipe a try!

Granola Energy Bars

Besides oats, nuts, and dried fruits, Dorie’s recipe includes shredded coconut, vanilla extract, and her secret ingredient, brown rice syrup.  While she gives us specific ingredients and measurements for these healthy bars, she also gives us permission to mix and match with our favorite nuts and dried fruits. I did a mix of slivered almonds, raw sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and mini chocolate chips.

Verdict?  Wonderful!  These granola bars are chewy and delicious.  I love the idea of experimenting to find my favorite, signature blend of nuts and fruits.  The mini chocolate chips melted into the mixture, so next time I will wait for everything to cool before I mix them in, or else use cocoa nibs.  I also want to try these with coconut oil in place of the butter, as suggested by a fellow TWD member.

Granola Bars

These were a big hit with my family.  My husband has been eating them for breakfast.  My daughter has been enjoying them in her school lunches or as after-school snacks.  And I like one as an after workout lift-me-up.  I can see myself making these on a regular basis!

What did the rest of the TWD crowd think?  You can find out here!


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TWD: Gingerbread Buche de Noel

Gingerbread Buche de Noel

Happy Tuesdays with Dorie!  Just in time for Christmas, the group made a fanciful Christmas dessert called Gingerbread Buche de Noel.  These log-shaped cakes are very traditional in Europe, and pastry chefs in Paris unveil their creations for the year with fanfare.  Dorie calls hers a “Franco-American buche de Noel”, with American flavors and the traditional European shape. I made mine for Christmas dinner.

Buche de Noel

There are quite a few steps to making this dessert.  First, make the pecan praline that is used in both the filling and to adorn the outside of the cake.  Next make the gingerbread sponge cake, then the filling.  Finally, when you are ready to assemble the cake, make the marshmallow frosting.

I learned a couple of new techniques while making my buche de Noel. First of all, the cake layer had a technique I have never used before. The first step is to warm the eggs and sugar over simmering water before whipping them. It must help get nice volume. Next, I have never made marshmallow frosting before. It requires a candy thermometer and techniques similar to making marshmallows. It made a lovely, light, spreadable frosting.

Buche de Noel Slice

I enjoyed the flavors of this decadent Christmas dessert, but sponge cake ended up a bit dry.  I actually blame my kitchen scale for this.  I cut the recipe in half, relying heavily on my scale to do so.  Unfortunately, the scale was on it’s last legs and I had trouble getting accurate measurements.  I am sure something was off, resulting in my dry cake.  I did get a new kitchen scale as a Christmas gift (yay!), so this won’t be a problem in the future.

Other than the dry cake, I thought the cake was delicious. I loved the marshmallow frosting and would like to try it on a different cake some time. My daughter inhaled her serving, so I think she liked it!

If you would like to try making Gingerbread Buche de Noel, you can find the recipe (and/or listen to Dorie talk about it!) here: Dorie on NPR.


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FFWD: Speculoos


Merry (day after) Christmas!!  I hope all of you who celebrate had a wonderful day.  We had a lovely time with plenty of good food!

I have a lot of cooking and knitting and even a bit of sewing to catch you up on!  I will tackle them one at a time over the next few weeks, so keep your eye out for new posts from me.

For the last several years the French Fridays with Dorie group has done a Christmas Card Exchange.  This is the first year I participated and it was so much fun! I loved getting the mail each day to see who I got cards from.  Here is a photo with most of the cards I received (I am still waiting on a few…and I have a feeling a few of you are waiting on mine).  I hung them all on our front doors.

Christmas Cards

Today for French Fridays with Dorie the group is doing something a little different.  As part of the card exchange, participants could also share a favorite cookie or drink recipe.  Then, if we wished, we could each make one of those recipes and share it on our blogs today.  I decided not to participate in the recipe exchange, so I am doing a make-up recipe instead: Speculoos.

Speculoos are a spicy brown-sugar cookie recipe popular across Europe.  They are especially popular around Christmas-time. I had been meaning to make these cookies for the last couple Christmases, and finally made them this year.

Dorie’s recipe includes a lot of cinnamon (yum!) and a touch off ginger and cloves.  They are sturdy enough to be cut into shapes, but I made simple round cookies.

Watch out!  These cookies with disappear quickly!

Watch out! These cookies with disappear quickly!

I loved these cookies!  Cinnamon cookies are a favorite and these did not disappoint.  Based on how quickly these cookies got eaten, I think everyone in the family liked them.

If you would like to try Speculoos, Dorie’s recipe can be found here on her blog.


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TWD: The Rugelach That Won Over France


It’s Tuesday, and that means it’s time for my next installment of Tuesdays with Dorie.  The recipe of the week was The Rugelach That Won Over France.  I made them as part of the spread for my daughter’s birthday party this past weekend.

Rugelach consists of a tender dough made from cream cheese that bakes up similar to a puff pastry.  The dough is rolled with any number of fillings.  This recipe has us roll the dough with a filling of coconut, toasted nuts (I used almonds), chocolate, and dried cherries.  Dorie has us roll the dough like mini cinnamon rolls and then slice and bake it.

Like others mentioned in the P’s & Q’s, I had a little trouble with this recipe.  The rugelach were hard to slice without the dough cracking and the filling spilling out.  Also, the 400° oven temperature seemed too high and some of mine were over-cooked.  For a second batch I lowered the oven temp to 350°, and they turned out much better.

I had heard that Dorie has a very similar recipe in her book Baking: From My Home to Yours. I checked it out and found that her method of filling and rolling the dough was different: more like a crescent roll.  Also, the baking temp was 350°, so I wonder if it’s a typo in the new book?  The rugelach and the filling were good enough that I would try these again using the techniques from Baking: From My Home to Yours.


Despite their messy appearance, the rugelach were a hit!  The party guests cleaned the platter and exclaimed how good they were.  Can’t ask for more than that!

If you would like to see if this is “the Rugelach that wins over you”, you can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s newest book, Baking Chez Moi.


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