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Sage Popovers

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Let this recipe be your secret weapon for any last-minute needs. These popovers are crisp and puffy, and since they’re hollow inside they lend themselves to all kinds of savory jams and spreads. They can be made entirely of ingredients you’re likely to have on hand, and the batter can be prepared ahead and refrigerated. Happy Thanksgiving!

 Sage Popovers

2 cups (500 ml) milk

2 bay leaves

4 eggs

6 Tbs. (3/4 stick/90 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 cups (315 g) all-purpose flour

2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage, plus 10 whole leaves

 

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the milk and bay leaves until small bubbles appear around the edges. Off the heat, let stand for 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Refrigerate the milk until cool.

 

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400ºF (200ºC). Place two 6-well popover pans in the oven for 5 minutes.

 

In a blender, combine the milk, eggs, butter, flour, salt, pepper and chopped sage. Blend on high speed until the batter is smooth.

 

Remove the pans from the oven and spray 10 wells with nonstick cooking spray. Fill each about three-fourths full with batter and top with a sage leaf.

 

Return the pans to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven to 325ºF (165ºC) and continue baking until the popovers are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove the pans from the oven and, using the tip of a small knife, pierce the top of each popover to allow the steam to escape. Remove from the pans and serve warm. Makes 10 popovers.

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Dark and Sticky Gingerbread

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This dark, spicy and ultramoist cake is never more delicious than it is during the holidays. Its warm flavors are perfect for a wintry day — and even better when paired with a frothy pint of Guinness.

Dark and Sticky Gingerbread

1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) brewed espresso or very strong coffee

3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g.) firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup (11 oz./345 g.) molasses

3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.) canola oil

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger

2 cups (10 oz./315 g.) all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbs. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of ground white pepper

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Heaping 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g.) chopped crystallized ginger

Whipped cream for serving

 

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23-cm.) springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Put the pan on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk together the espresso, brown sugar, molasses, oil, eggs and fresh ginger. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and salt. Add the wet ingredients along with the crystallized ginger, and stir to combine. The batter will be quite loose.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the pan sides and slide the gingerbread onto a serving plate. Serve warm with heaps of whipped cream. Makes one 9-inch (23-cm.) gingerbread.

Baker’s Note: Make the gingerbread into a dessert fit for company by serving slices topped with poached pears and cream whipped with a big pinch of ground ginger.

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Fig Crostata

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When figs reach the height of their season in late summer and early autumn, take advantage of their sweet flavor and luxurious texture by showcasing them in this rustic fig crostata, which is a free-form tart that is similar to a galette.

Fig Crostata

batch flaky pie dough, chilled

1 lb. (500 g) fresh figs, quartered

1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) firmly packed brown sugar

2 Tbs. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest

5 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. kirsch

Pinch of salt

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs. heavy cream

1 Tbs. turbinado sugar

8 oz. (250 g) mascarpone cheese

1 1/2 Tbs. honey

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lightly dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out the chilled dough into a round 13 inches (33 cm) in diameter and about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Trim off any ragged edges to make an even 12-inch (30-cm) round. Carefully roll the dough around the pin and unroll it onto the prepared baking sheet.

In a large bowl, gently toss together the figs, brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, 3 tsp. of the lemon juice the kirsch and salt until thoroughly combined. Leaving a 2-inch (5-cm) border uncovered, arrange the fig filling in the center of the pastry.

Fold the border up and over the filling, forming loose pleats all around the edge and leaving the center open. Brush the pleated dough with the egg mixture, then sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. You will not use all of the egg mixture.

Bake until the crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

While the crostata is cooling, in a small bowl stir together the mascarpone cheese, honey and the remaining 2 tsp. lemon juice.

Serve the crostata warm or at room temperature with a dollop of the mascarpone mixture on top. Serves 8.

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Walnut–Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

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No one can resist a thick slice of freshly baked banana bread, especially when it’s studded with melting chocolate chips and toasty walnuts. Baking this bread is a good way to take advantage of fruit that has been languishing on the counter throughout the busy week. The riper the bananas, the sweeter and more delicious the bread will be.

 

Walnut–Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

3 very ripe bananas, peeled

2 cups (10 oz./315 g) all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1⁄4 tsp. fine sea salt

6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3⁄4 cup (6 oz./185 g) sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1⁄2 cup (4 oz./125 g) sour cream, at room temperature

1 cup (6 oz./185 g) semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup (4 oz./125 g) coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter a 9-by-5-inch (23-by-13-cm) loaf pan. Line the bottom and long sides of the pan with parchment paper. Butter the top of the parchment. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

 

Using a fork, mash the bananas in a bowl; you should have about 1 cup (8 oz./250 g). In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a third bowl, using a handheld mixer on high speed, beat together the butter and sugar until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs and then the mashed bananas. Reduce the
speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed, beating until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips and half of the walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts on top.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto the rack and remove the paper. Invert again, and let cool completely. Cut into slices and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 1 loaf.

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Frosted Apple Cake

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Think of this cake when you need a sweet treat to serve a crowd. It’s great for an after-school snack or play dates at your house, as well as for a casual get-together with friends. Use a soft, tart apple, such as Gravenstein or McIntosh. Pippin or Granny Smith apples work well, too.

 

Frosted Apple Cake

For the cake:

2 cups (10 oz./315 g) all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

2 cups (8 oz./250 g) diced, peeled apples (about 2 1/2 apples)

1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

 

For the frosting:

1 lb. (500 g) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups (5 oz./155 g) confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking pan with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the sides by several inches.

 

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper; set aside.

 

Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

 

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the buttermilk in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Then fold in the apples and walnuts, if using. Using a light lifting motion and turning the bowl continuously, fold in until the batter is smooth and the flour is thoroughly incorporated. Do not fold too vigorously or the cake will be tough. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

 

Bake until the top is brown and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. When the cake is cool, grasp the edges of the parchment paper and lift up to remove the cake from the pan. Place the cake on a work surface.

 

To make the frosting, using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.

 

Using a long cake spatula, spread the frosting over the surface of the cake. Cut the cake into squares and serve. Serves 12.

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Recipe Roundup: Fall Baking

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As much as we love sweet berries and stone fruits, we’re looking forward to a new season of baking! Enjoy early autumn’s gems in these gorgeous treats.

 

Apple and Cranberry GaletteApple and Cranberry Galette
This beautiful open-faced pastry, with scarlet cranberries nestled among golden apple slices, is a gorgeous finale for a harvest (or holiday!) meal.
Apple & Butterscotch Cobbler with Pecan StreuselApple & Butterscotch Cobbler with Pecan Streusel
This cobbler courtesy of Chef Thomas Keller is baked right in the pot used to make the butterscotch sauce, which both minimizes cleanup and makes for a fun, casual presentation.
Pumpkin Cream Cookie SandwichesPumpkin Cream Cookie Sandwiches
For a fun twist on the traditional sandwich cookie, a cream cheese filling flavored with pecan pumpkin butter is tucked between chewy ginger-molasses cookies. They’re perfect for Halloween parties!
Spiced Pear Tarte TatinSpiced Pear Tarte Tatin
Traditional Tarte Tatin uses apples and a classic pastry crust, but this delicious variation substitutes pears and flaky puff pastry. Crystallized ginger packs a gentle heat and plays against the pears’ sweet, floral flavor.
Brown Sugar-Cranberry Oat MuffinsBrown Sugar-Cranberry Oat Muffins
Studded with tart cranberries and packed with wholesome oats, these delicious muffins bake up moist, with nicely rounded, golden-brown tops.
Autumn Fruit StrudelAutumn Fruit Strudel
Here, a mix of fresh and dried fruits is tucked into layers of flaky phyllo dough for an easy, lightened up dessert.
Spiced Cider DoughnutsSpiced Cider Doughnuts
You may wonder if making your own doughnuts is worth the effort. Just one bite of these sugar-glazed deep-fried treats will prove it is. The spicy flavor is sure to bring back memories of crisp autumn mornings and relaxing breakfasts in flannel pajamas.
Cranberry & Pear CrumbleCranberry & Pear Crumble
Warm, gooey, sweet-tart pears and cranberries covered with a spiced crumble topping — this is the ultimate no-fuss fall dessert. Don’t forget vanilla ice cream for serving.
Salted Caramel Apple PieSalted Caramel Apple Pie
A traditional autumn favorite — apple pie — gets a modern twist here with the addition of salted caramel. A lattice crust makes it pretty enough for a special occasion.
Brandied Apple Cake with Figs and WalnutsBrandied Apple Cake with Figs and Walnuts
Loaded with apple chunks, dried fruit and nuts, here is a not-overly-sweet cake that can be enjoyed for breakfast, afternoon tea or as a casual dessert when topped with whipped cream.
Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar-Pecan StreuselPumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar-Pecan Streusel
This coffee cake is lighter than you would expect, with the rich flavor of pumpkin and spices and a thick layer of crunchy brown sugar and pecan streusel. Serve it for an autumn brunch.
Cranberry Chess TartCranberry Chess Tart
With its simple custardy buttermilk filling, chess pie is a classic dessert of the American South. This updated version is baked in a square tart pan and includes sweet-tart cranberries and orange zest, giving it a festive twist for the fall and winter tables.
Deconstructed Apple Crisp with Buttermilk Ice CreamDeconstructed Apple Crisp with Buttermilk Ice Cream
Here, Liz Williams, Pastry Supervisor at Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm, gives the classic apple crisp a creative makeover: The topping is transformed into oatmeal cookies that are served atop the apple filling in individual bowls. A scoop of buttermilk ice cream adds the perfect finishing touch.
Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese SwirlPumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl
This spiced pumpkin bread has a delicious surprise hidden inside: a swirl of tangy-sweet cream cheese.
Pear-Custard TartPear-Custard Tart
This delicately flavored tart is filled with vanilla-poached pears and brandy-spiked custard, then topped with sugary toasted almonds. It makes an elegant finale for a fall gathering.