Molasses Oat Cake with Glazed Pineapple

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If you have checked me out recently on Instagram, you may have noticed that LongJohn and I just spent the last three weeks hanging out with my parents in Florida, where we both got a nice tan and the kid grew about four inches.

Really going to miss watching this yahoo enjoy the beach every day. #alidoesit

A post shared by Alison Bell (@alidoesit.herself) on

I didn’t do too much cooking while I was there, but I did make one or two things, and here’s one of them. My dad was trying to clear out the pantry in preparation for their trip back to the True North, so in my efforts to help him get rid of a few things, I came up with this puppy. It’s a good cake for the winter or the summer (I think).

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and spray or butter an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish. Might as well polish off some of the brownies-from-a-box you made the day before. Gotta keep cleaning out that cupboard, right?

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Grab some butter (oh, the land where butter is always at a spreadable temperature!) and melt 3 tablespoons of it.

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Grab a small bowl and tip in 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup oats, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Then assemble the rest of your stuff: 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch ground cloves, 1/3 cup molasses, 1 egg, and of course your 3 tablespoons melted butter. You’ll see here as well about 1-ish cup fresh (not frozen) blueberries. If you use frozen blueberries the juice from the broken blueberries will get all through the batter and alter the molasses taste. It might also take longer to cook.

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Take all the stuff that isn’t in a bowl with oats or is blueberries and beat that together.

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Take the blueberries and tip them in the bowl with the oats and flour and stir that a bit. Coating the blueberries in flour prevents them all from sinking to the bottom of the baking dish.

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Plop the oats, flour, and blueberries into the molasses mix and stir until smooth(ish).

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Spoon that into your prepared dish and bake for 25-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. This timing will really depend on how thick the glass on your dish is. I cooked this in a convection toaster oven which I think is slightly hotter than it says it is, and so it was done in 25 minutes. Put the cake, still in the dish, on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Now if you want to make it fancy, grab yourself a nice ripe whole pineapple. The pineapple trivet is optional.

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Cut the top and bottom of the pineapple up and then slice off the skin.

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Cut the pineapple into quarters along its core, and slice off the core from the quarters.

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Cut each quarter lengthwise into three pieces. Too complicated? Just cut it up any way you would like. I’m not your mother.

Molasses Cake Pineapple 11Coat each one of the pineapple pieces in granulated sugar.

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Set those aside for a minute.

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In a large skillet or frying pan (or saucepan, whichever is your biggest), melt another 3 tablespoons butter.

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Cook all the slices of pineapple in the skillet on medium heat until they’re cooked through and kind of shrunken, about 8-10 minutes. If you don’t have room to cook them all in the pan at once, wait until some of them shrink before adding a few more slices.

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Remove from pan and set on serving plate. They will start to ooze thick sugary juice.

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Add 3 tablespoons water to the butter and sugar in pan and let it thicken, stirring, JUST until it starts to brown then remove immediately from the heat. It will continue to brown as you stir, off the heat.

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Drizzle that over the pineapple.

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You can serve them hot but if you leave the caramel on the pineapple as it cools it will slowly dissolve back into the juice, leaving a nice sauce you can spoon over the pineapple and the square when you serve it.

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Enjoy!

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Baked Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal 9I modified this recipe from Babble and made a great easy breakfast that can easily be played with and served in many ways. If you like the idea of an easy hot breakfast these little baked oatmeal squares are going to be a new staple for you. Plus you can reheat the squares later on for breakfast on the go. Feel free to play with the sugar amount if you want to take this dish from a breakfast to a nice dessert with ice cream! Start by preheating your oven to 375°F and butter up an 8″ x 8″ baking dish. In a bowl, mix together 3 cups rolled oats (not instant), 1/2 cup sugar1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and the zest of 1 lemon. Baked Oatmeal 1

In another bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons melted cooled butter, 2 cups milk, and 2 eggs.

Baked Oatmeal 2Spread half the oat mixture into the bottom of your dish. Spread 1 cup berries or fruit of your choice, fresh or frozen (I used 1 cup frozen service berries) over the oat mixture. Baked Oatmeal 4

Spread on the other half of the oat mixture, and then an additional 1 cup berries. Press the berries into the mix a little.

Baked Oatmeal 5Pour the milk mixture over the oats and berries and pop it in the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the centre is set and everything is starting to get lovely and golden. Baked Oatmeal 6

Let it rest for about ten minutes before you scoop out a piece and eat it because it will be molten.

Baked Oatmeal 7I bet these would be good with butter and maple syrup … Baked Oatmeal 8

Freezer Pies

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What do you do when you have a big party coming up that requires lots of yummy baked goods, but you know that on the weekend in question you’re going to be way too busy to do anything as involved as make a pie? You take advantage of your freezer, of course.

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First you make up your favourite pastry dough. I always love the original Joy of Cooking version that you can find in a previous post here. The Joy also has some great information on how to make pies ahead of time by freezing them before baking.

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Then you make up your fillings. Here we opted for a vanilla peach and a strawberry-blueberry version. As long as you have about five cups of fruit, and then a couple tablespoons each of sugar, butter, and thickener (flour or corn starch), plus a few drops of lemon juice, then you can make any pie you want.

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We had a tool that Cait called a “strawberry effer-upper” (though she used a stronger word than “effer,” if you catch my drift) which handily slices your strawberries into several neat pieces. Cait’s sister Jules was very happy to take on the effer-upper role. She’s a little sadistic like that.

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Cait also made the error of purchasing clingstone peaches for our pies instead of freestone peaches, so getting the flesh of the fruit off the stone was a bit of a challenge. Eventually I discovered that if you cut wedges into the peach then it’s easier to pry off the sections.

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Once your fillings are made and mixed, leave them at least fifteen minutes to macerate.

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Ideally your dough has been chilling happily all this time and you’ve had a chance to roll it out and let it chill some more. The difference between a regular pie and a freezer pie is that when you plop the bottom shell into the pie dish, you leave a piece of plastic wrap on the bottom between the dish and the pastry. Honest.

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Then you fill your pie that is sitting on top of a layer of plastic wrap. This pie is quite tall.

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Seal it in with more pastry. Do not glaze your pastry at this point, if you’re into that kind of thing. You gotta wait on that.

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Now wrap the rest of it up in plastic wrap so it’s tightly sealed. Wrap again in foil and shove that into the freezer.

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When you’re ready to bake, haul the frozen pies out of the freezer. Preheat your oven to 425°F.

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I stored the strawberry/blueberry one on an angle so I did have a bit of leakage.

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Pry the pie out of the dish and peel off the bottom wrap.

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Plop the pie back into the dish (you can glaze it now if you wish) and pop it in the oven for 10 minutes.

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After ten minutes, haul it out and cut steam vents in the pastry.

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Then shove it back in the oven (this time at 350°F) for a further hour, until the pastry is light brown and crusty and the insides are bubbling out.

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Let those cool completely (or nearly completely) before eating. Yum!

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The Cross-Border Pie: Serviceberries in Service!

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Teedz requested a pie when we eventually made it across the border to visit her and Tego and Ando in NYC. And you guys remember that I have all those serviceberries I stole gathered from the neighbourhood. So I made a serviceberry/blueberry pie for the road. Actually, I made two, and the pictures will reflect that, but the recipe below is just for one.

First, I made the pastry dough, using the beloved food processor method. Now that I’ve found a technique that yields consistent results I am so reluctant to try anything else. Anyway, you can find the recipe and process way back here. I pulsed up the dough, split it in two, wrapped it up, and chucked it in the fridge overnight to do whatever it is that pie crust does overnight in the fridge. Dance party maybe?

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So, get your dough rolled out into tops and bottoms and preheat your oven to 450°F. Beat up 1 egg in a wee dish.

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Use said egg as a wash in the bottom of your pie. You want to do this so the berries don’t make the sucker soggy.

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Now, grate the zest of a lemon and juice it as well.

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Juicy juicy. Set that aside for a second.

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I had a peanut gallery of people installing eavestroughs while I was doing this.

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Grab your serviceberries that you have handily frozen. You want them to defrost only enough that the berries separate from each other easily.

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I also used some fresh blueberries I had on hand. Essentially you’ll need 5 cups frozen berries (or combo-fresh, but don’t tell).

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Pitch the berries into a bowl with your lemon zest and juice, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch (mine was a little runny so I suggest even a little more cornstarch than this), and 2 tablespoons melted butter.

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Give that a sound stirring and get ready to fill your pie. Are you excited? I’m excited.

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For a 9″ pie you’ll find the berries definitely come out quite high once you shove them into the crust. I patted mine down a bit, but don’t fret too much – they will shrink as they cook.

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Slam the top of your crust down and seal the edges (repair any cracks with leftover dough trimmings).

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Cut some vent holes in the top.

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“Nooo, don’t put me in the oven, PLEASE!”

Slather that with some more egg.

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“Heeeeeelp meeeeeee …”

Bung that in the oven for precisely 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°F and bake for another 45 minutes, until it’s all bubbly and a nice golden brown. Let it cool completely before reheating or eating cold.

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And, as a trick I learned from Mrs. Nice, take your leftover dough trimmings, brush them with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar, and bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden.

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These are handy treats for those young ones (or not so young ones) who can’t wait until dessert for the whole pie.

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Overnight Blueberry French Toast

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Another French toast casserole?  ANOTHER one?

Frankly?  Yes.  They’re good.  And they’re easy.  Did I mention they were good?  And easy?

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I thought this one from Chef in Training would appeal to the bread loving members of the Pie’s family for their special housewarming brunch last weekend.  I adapted it a little, of course, as I am wont to do.  The easiness of the recipe was especially important, given that our bedroom at the time looked like this:

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So while our housewarming party didn’t show our house at its best, at least the food was good.

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So start with some bread.  The recipe maker likes to use 12 slices of Texas Toast, but I used a small loaf of crusty French bread that I had left out to get a bit stale.

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Cut the bread into cubes.

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Take a 8oz / 250g package of plain cream cheese and cut that into cubes as well.  I found it was easiest to slice it into chunks and then pull the chunks apart with my fingers.

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Grab yourself as well 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (the original recipe called for 1 cup but you know me).

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Now, crack 12 eggs into a bowl.  Give them a good whisking.

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Add 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and 2 cups cream to the eggs.

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Ready for assembly?  Generously butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and line the bottom with half your bread cubes.

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Evenly distribute the blueberries and cream cheese chunks on top of that.

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Then finish off with the rest of the bread.

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Carefully pour the egg mixture over the entire top of the casserole.  Or don’t do it carefully and spill it everywhere — it’s your choice, really.

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Gently squish the bread bits down so they absorb the eggy stuff.

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Cover the baking dish with foil and shove it in the fridge overnight.

Why not start on the blueberry syrup? You can make this syrup ahead of time and reheat it, or right before serving.

In a medium-sized pot, dump 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch.  Heat on medium, stirring frequently, until smooth and thick.

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Add in 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries and continue to cook, stirring, for another 10 minutes, until the blueberries have all burst and the sauce is thick and purple.

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Tip in 1 tablespoon butter and stir that until it’s all melted.  You are now ready to serve the syrup.  If you’re going to make this the day before, let it cool completely before just putting the whole pot in the fridge.  That way it’s easier to reheat it the next day.

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To bake the French toast, preheat your oven to 350°F.  Leave the foil on the dish and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for a further 30 minutes.  Serve with syrup and enjoy!

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Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars

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I pulled this recipe from Chatelaine for Trav’s birthday a few weeks ago.  It didn’t quite go as well as I’d hoped, so the version I’m going to give to you is what I WOULD have done, had I known that this was how things were going to go down.  In my version, the crust (I thought) was too thick, and they made me bake it for too long, so it burned.  Also, the cheesecake layer was too thin, there were too many blueberries, and the whole thing was ready almost 15 minutes earlier than it was supposed to be, so if I hadn’t been checking, it would have charred.  So here we go, the right way (I think).

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with parchment paper.  You want it to overhang on the sides so you can use them as handles later.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 3/4 cup softened butter with 1/2 cup granulated sugar until it’s all creamy.  Add in 1 1/2 cups flour, mixing slowly, and chuck in as well about 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest.

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Press this lovely shortbread dough into the base of the prepared pan, and bake until the edges are just starting to darken, about 15-20 minutes (keep an eye on it, though).

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In a small saucepan, dump 3/4 cup frozen blueberries (or 1 cup fresh blueberries), together with 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.  Cook over medium, stirring occasionally,  until the berries are just starting to go soft and juicy and the sugar is dissolved, about 8 minutes.  You don’t want this to start to bubble.  Set that aside to cool.

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I may have put a bit more of myself than usual into this recipe when I was grating the zest. Literally. Don’t worry, that’s not all blood. Some of it is blueberry juice.

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Using an electric mixer again, beat together 3 250g blocks of softened cream cheese with 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons vanilla, and 3 eggs, until it’s all combined and smooth.

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Spill the cream cheese mixture over top the shortbread and spread it until it covers everything.

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Take your cooled blueberries and dollop them all over the top.  Ignore the resemblance to a crime scene.

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Use the edge of a knife to draw swirls through the blueberries, so they’re all, you know, swirly.

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Bake in the centre of the oven until the filling is set, about 40 minutes (this was the original time provided, but I had less cream cheese filling so I hope it works out this time).

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Transfer to a rack to cool for at least an hour, then chill for at least 2 hours before slicing up and serving.

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Please note that I haven’t tested this exact recipe — it’s my best guess to compensate for what I saw was lacking in the original.  I will probably try it again at some point but it might not make it into the blog.  If you try it please let me know how it works out!

Peach Blueberry Crumble

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I made this back when we were still in St. John’s, and I am so glad now that I have access to local produce IN SEASON.  In fact I bet you one of the first things I did upon arriving in Ottawa was scarf down some fresh Ontario fruit.  I bet you a million dollars.

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But anyway.  Summer, if you’re in many parts of Canada, entails lots and lots of amazing fruit: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, not to mention plums, nectarines, and gorgeous, gorgeous peaches.

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These blueberries are frozen and the peaches come from somewhere in the US but I think the sentiment is the same, hey?  The recipe is adapted from my mother’s apple crisp.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a glass baking dish.

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Slice up about 7 peaches.  I had eight, but I ate one.  Sue me.

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Set about 1 cup frozen blueberries to thaw slightly (fresh are better, obviously).

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In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup softened butter with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup oats, and 3/4 cup brown sugar (I only had granulated sugar, but brown is best).

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I used my hands (having packed my pastry blender) to mix the butter into the flour and oats and sugar. Sprinkle about half that mixture into the bottom of your baking dish and pack it down gently.

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Layer on your fruit however you’d like.  I went with half the peaches on the bottom, the blueberries in the middle, and the rest of the peaches on top, like a summery sandwich of fruity goodness.

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Sprinkle the remaining flour/oat mixture over top.

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Bake, covered, for about 20 minutes, then uncover and bake a further 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and everything inside is bubbly.

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Your topping will be more brown if you use brown sugar, obviously.

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Because we were enduring a heat wave when I made this (in St. John’s!  I know!), we let this cool completely and then served it with partridgeberry ice cream.

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