BYOB: Rosemary Foccocia

 I HAVE FINALLY DONE IT! I have been trying to master foccocia. It seems simple enough. Water, olive oil, flour, salt, yeast and water. Right?  NOT! But I wont bog you down with my failures. But how about a photo?
This one came out like a giant greasy cracker. Even the sprinkle of Asiago cheese did not help :(
Several recipes later it all came together for me!
I just want to share with you a secret! Put in potato flakes for some of the flour! HA! I used about a 1/2 cup and had excellent results. Just look!
So light, so fluffy, so tasty right out of the oven! A big thanks to my neighbor M for the rosemary!

Cake Slice Bakers: Cinnamon-Pecan Coffee Cake

The Cake Slice Bakers' have selected a new cook book to bake from for the next year. Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott. 
I have had this book for awhile and have turned out some pretty impressive desserts like this , this and  this, so I was super excited to have this book become our group baking guide. This is one of those cookbooks that I have  full of bookmarded pages. There are so many great recipes and stories.  If you don't have it I highly recommend it. 

So our first selection is the Cinnamon- Pecan Coffee Cake. I traded out some of the cinnamon for cardomon and apples for the raisons. This is a really moiste and buttery cake. The brown sugar, spices, nuts, and fruit are crumbles in between layers of batter with some butter and sprinkled on top. This cake is GOOOOD! The crunchy sweet topping plays nicely with the cake. I think you could do endless versions of fruit, nuts and spices with this recipe. 

My cake did not come out very pretty... I tried to half the recipe and thought there was not evough batter for an 8x8 pan so I switched to a 6 inch round pan... big mistake! but, still tastey! I don't know why I cant just follow a recipe as is. Most of my middle layer of nuts, fruit, and brown sugar erupted though the top for a massive oven boil over. The rest somehow settled on the bottom of the pan in a sticky pool. 

Keep in mind this did not prevent me from eating this cake in any way! 
This post is being automatically posted since I am visiting family. I hope all your cakes came out beautifully! I can't wait to see them when I get back! Don't forget to visit the other Cake Slice Bakers to view more coffee cakes!

Plum Sauce

I was on my nightly walk through the neighborhood with Scout collecting hazelnuts and such when a neighbor stopped me to ask if I was gathering fruit. When I answered yes he invited me a few houses over to his back yard to pick as much fruit as I wanted... AS MUCH FRUIT AS I WANTED.

The Italian plum trees were overloaded with ripe fruit so I picked as many as I could put in my plastic grocery bag before it got too dark to see. I was invited to come back anytime.
The next week I was busy processing pears I got out at a u-pick farm so I made plans to finish up and gather some more of those plums!

I think I ended up with about 15 pounds! In exchange for my neighbors generosity I traded some pear butter and baklava- home made of course! for his plums.

So what to do with all these plums? I don't know enough about jelly or jam to take that on so I found a recipe for an Asian style spicy plum sauce.

The sauce came out really good! It has about 4 pounds of plums, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, mustard powder, ginger, garlic, red chili flakes, and onion. It is sweet, sour and spicy hot. I have made my own Moo Shu vegetables with mandarin pancakes and plum sauce.  I have A LOT  left over... any takers?

Handsome Pear Cake

Pears are ripe in the Willamette Valley so I headed out to Deterings Orchard this weekend to pick apples and pears. 
Some pears were dried.

Some pears were made into pear butter and canned.
And a few lucky pears went into a cake experiment.
Can you see the difference? No? how about a side by side comparison?
The slice on the left is made with butter. The slice on the right is made with pear sauce as a lower fat alternative and to pump up the pear flavor.
I like them both. The one with butter is more cake like.... softer tighter crumb and a little moister. The one with pear sauce has a stronger pear flavor and is heartier like a dense sweet bread. ( I may have over developed the gluten) Both have cinnamon and cardamom and both are disappearing rapidly as I perform my taste tests!
This recipe comes from Nancy McDermott"s book"Southern Cakes".
Here is the recipe with a little commentary
Pear Bread:
3 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon ( and 1/2 teaspoon Cardamon! if you like!)
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup butter softened or 3/4 cup oil (or apple sauce/ pear sauce)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 cups peeled and finely grated but firm pears
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan or two 9 by 5 inch long pans.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl, and stir with a fork to mix everything well. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and combine it in a small bowl with the chopped walnuts, stirring and tossing to coat the nuts with the flour. ( I just did this all in one bowl)

In a medium bowl combine the butter or oil, eggs, sugar chopped pears, and vanilla, and stir to mix everything well. Scrap the pear mixture into the flour mixture, and stir just until the flur disappears and the batter is evenly moistened. (ok both times this did not really work and the flour did not easily combine. I ended up with something similar to chocolate chip cookie dough. I recommend adding the flour/nut mixture into the wet mixture a little at a time until blended. be careful about over developing your gluten so don't over mix here.)

Quickly scrape the batter into the prepared pans, and bake at 350 F for 60 to 70 minutes. (Both or mine were done at a bout 45 minutes so check a little early) or until the bread is handsomely browned and firm on top, and a wooden skewer inserted in the  center comes our clean.

Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate or wire rack to cool completely, top side up. Serve as is or sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Additional notes: I found this batter to be really thick and a little dry when I followed the directions to add the wet mixture to the dry and mix. Maybe my pears were not as juicy? This bread is really delicious and could easily overthrow Banana as the top fruit quick bread!  Keep an eye on your pear bread about half an hour into the baking time. Both times my cake was "handsomely browned" way before the suggested 60 to 70 minutes. Hee hee "Handsome"!
Hey there Handsome! Smile for the camera!
This bread makes me realize Fall is really here!