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Posts about Baking

Recipe: Raspberry Rhubarb Pie

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: May 8, 2014 - 11:16 AM

As if anyone needed it, the following is a reason to purchase "New Scenic Cafe: The Cookbook." It's one of three fruit pie formulas that chef and author Scott Graden includes in the book.


Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. “Our raspberry rhubarb pie is another sought-after treat at the New Scenic Cafe,” writes Scott Graden in “New Scenic Cafe: The Cookbook.” “I have always enjoyed the tart and bitter flavor of rhubarb, and it is traditional to use it in desserts in Minnesota, though I add just enough sugar to soften the rhubarb’s singular impact. When it is in season, I use as much fresh rhubarb as I can get my hands on. Use fresh for this recipe, if it’s available, but frozen rhubarb also works well."

For crust:

3/4 c. vegetable shortening

1 3/4 c. flour, plus extra for rolling crust

1 tsp. kosher salt

5 oz. ice-cold water

For filling:

2 lb. rhubarb

12 oz. frozen raspberries

1/2 c. flour

1 1/3 c. plus 1 tbsp. sugar, divided

Freshly whipped cream


To prepare crust: Before beginning, chill the vegetable shortening in the refrigerator. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening, until shortening pieces are no larger than the size of peas.

Add water to mixture, using a fork to blend it together lightly until dough looks evenly damp (you should be able to see small clumps of shortening in the dough). Lightly flour a work surface. With floured hands,form dough into a ball, then divide dough into 2 equal parts. Gently shape each piece of dough into a smooth, round disc and wrap each disc tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.

To prepare filling: If using frozen rhubarb, allow it to defrost fully (though the raspberries should remain frozen). For fresh rhubarb, clean the stalks and chop them into 1/4-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, raspberries, 1/2 cup flour and 1 1/3 cups sugar, and stir until evenly combined.

To prepare pie: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough discs from refrigerator and unwrap. On a floured work surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll dough until it is just wider than the outer rim of the pie pan. Transfer dough into pie pan, and press dough into pan’s edges, making sure the end of the crust just barely hangs over the rim of the pan all the way around. Place pie pan in the refrigerator. 

Roll the second dough disc to the same size as the first. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, fill it with prepared fruit filling. Transfer second crust to the top of the pie, making sure there are no air pockets between the filling and the top crust. Roll and crimp edges of the top and bottom crusts to seal them together. Using the tip of a knife, cut several vent holes in the top crust, and dust with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Place pie pan on a baking sheet and bake pie for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake pie for another 35 minutes. Using an instant-read thermometer, check temperature at the pie’s center, baking until it reads 170 degrees. Any juices that have bubbled out should appear clear rather than cloudy, indicated doneness, and the crust should be light golden brown. Remove pie from oven, place pie pan on a cooling rack and allow it to cool to room temperature (at least 1 hour) before slicing. Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Waste not: Repurpose bananas into terrific bread

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: April 27, 2014 - 11:34 AM
Photo by Richard Sennott

Photo by Richard Sennott

The VEAP building (Volunteers Enlisted in Assisting People) in Bloomington, which houses the largest food shelf in Minnesota (and offers many social services), has a new commercial kitchen, and with it a new effort to make good use of surplus fruits and vegetables. Their first project was to repurpose bananas into banana bread. They tinkered with a recipe to make it more healthful (whole wheat flour, less sugar, more bananas, less fat). See it below. Have to say it tastes mighty good.

For more about the program, go to the story.


Makes 1 loaf.
Note: For the best flavor, use bananas that have lots of brown specks on the skin and that are slightly soft. Mash bananas with a table fork, potato masher or wire whisk; it’s fine to have small lumps remaining. A large, lengthwise crack in the thin, tender top crust of a quick bread is normal. From the kitchen of VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted in Assisting People) in Bloomington.

• 2 eggs
• 1/2 c. sugar (packed brown or granulated)
• 1/4 c. vegetable oil
• 1/4 c. fat-free or low-fat milk
• 2 tsp. vanilla
• 1 1/2 c. mashed very ripe bananas (5 to 6 medium) (see Note)
• 1 c. all-purpose flour
• 1 c. whole wheat flour
• 1 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon


Move oven rack to low position so that top of pan will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray.

In large bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk or spoon until smooth. Stir in mashed bananas until smooth. Stir in flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon with spoon or rubber scraper just until moistened. Pour into pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes. With a knife, loosen sides of loaf from pan and remove from pan. Place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 10 days.

Take a honey of a challenge

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: April 10, 2014 - 11:27 AM


Photo by the Star Tribune

Photo by the Star Tribune


It's a honey of a tasting tonight as local professional chefs present their best pastries featuring dandelion honey. Come for a sample -- many samples -- from Spoonriver, Lucia’s, Restaurant Alma, Andoyne, Gigi’s Café Uptown, Mason Restaurant Barre, Open Arms, Seward Co-Op Bakery, Treat, Mademoiselle Miel and Jenny Breen. Proceeds go to support Healthy Bees, Healthy Lives initiative.

When: Thursday, April 10
Time:6:30-9:30 p.m.
Where: Nicollet Island Pavillion, 40 Power Street, Minneapolis
Cost: $35


Weekend baking: Blueberry buckle

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: April 7, 2014 - 11:09 AM

Monday is National Coffee Cake Day. Go figure.

When I hear coffee cake, my automatic word-association reflexes fly to one of my late grandmother’s recipes, one that is forever linked to my grandparents’ lake cabin.

Sugar Lake was a magical place in my childhood. It’s practically a far-ring suburb today – it’s about 10 miles south of Annandale, Minn. -- but in the pre-I-94 era the journey felt like a never-ending drive from my family's suburban Minneapolis home.

Grandma Gay had a Sugar Lake ritual, at least during blueberry season. She would alleviate her guests’ car weariness by greeting them with a slice or two of what I later discovered was an easy-to-prepare buckle, still warm from the oven.

Although it came off as an extra-special treat, her blueberry buckle was cloaked in practicality, using ingredients that were always on hand at the lake; no running into town for the sour cream or other coffee-cake staples that, inevitably, end up as a shopping list afterthought.

My guess is that, after countless summers, Grandma pulled her blueberry buckle together from memory. Fortunately, in the late 1970s, my sister Cheri thought to ask Grandma for the recipe. Treasure, right? I still have the card, written using a thick Flair pen, in Cheri’s tidy high-school cursive.

In honor of this momentous national holiday, I baked Grandma’s buckle this morning (using frozen berries discovered in the back of my freezer, picked last summer at Rush River Produce in Maiden Rock, Wis., pictured above), and our kitchen is perfumed with the loveliest scent.

If only I could open the windows and catch the breeze off the lake.


Serves 9.

Note: I suggest adding a teaspoon vanilla extract to the batter when incorporating the milk, and maybe include a 3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans to the topping, two ingredients that probably weren't regulars in the Olsens' 1960s cabin pantry. 

For cake:

2 c. flour, plus extra for pan

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pan

3/4 c. sugar

1 egg

1/2 c. whole milk, at room temperature

2 c. blueberries

For topping:

1/2 c. sugar

1/3 c. flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces


To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x9-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and alternately add flour mixture and milk in thirds, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined. Carefully fold blueberries into batter and pour batter into prepared baking pan.

To prepare topping: In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter and, using your fingers, press together until combined (dough will be lumpy). Spoon mixture evenly on top of batter. Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Cookie contest: The stories behind the recipes

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: December 4, 2013 - 6:02 PM

Yes, the recipes are the major component of our annual Holiday Cookie Contest.

But we also appreciate the stories behind each recipe. Here are some tales, culled from the 300-plus entries in our 2013 competition, that captured our attention.

“For me, these recipes are home. I sat in my mom’s kitchen last night typing up this recipe, asking her to interpret parts where old spills and stains had made it too hard to read. She told me how these were the first cookies her mom made each Christmas season. How the flavor reminded her of her own mom’s kitchen.” -- Elisabeth Johnson of St. Paul

“I knew they were a hit when my mother-in-law brought back the empty Ziploc bag and asked for a refill." -- Kim Carroll of Hastings

“Everything is in sync when I’m in a kitchen.” -- Chuck Minni of Farmington

“It is not Christmas unless we make these cookies.” -- Mary Ann Kjos

“The attached is a family favorite. It is scrawled on a recipe card. Is it from a friend? The paper or a magazine? Its origin is unknown.” -- Roberta Swanson of Minneapolis

“When my mom would make these cookies, it kicked off the Christmas season. The smell and taste of these sugar cookies will always and forever remind me of the excitement of Christmas as a child! As a mother, I hope I am making the same memories for my children as I kick off the holiday season every year.” -- Julie Millikan

“Although I am only 13 years old, I feel like I am very experienced. Ever since I was little I would help my mother bake cookies and desserts. Now that I am older I bake things of my own. Someday I might even want to set up my own bakery and sell my baked goods. It will take a lot of work but with strong will and perseverance I know I can do it.” -- Holly Anderson of Farmington

“I’m not sure where I found this recipe. The card that the recipe is written on is quite worn. However, our family of four children, their spouses and 15 grandchildren prefer this cookie over many of the other cookie recipes that I make. Just this past week a teenager from the church I attend asked me to make a batch for the young people’s get together they were having, after the Friday night football game.” -- Ruth Nystrom of Worthington, Minn.

“One year I ran out of time to make them for Christmas Eve and they were crushed. I’ll never forget the looks of disappointment on their faces. I now make sure that I take the time to make these cookies so I can give them this little Christmas treat that they so look forward to.” -- Rita Strafelda of Cottage Grove

“I didn’t have a grandmother who taught me baking and spent time with me to build memories in the kitchen. My baking skills are self-taught and through perseverance I have reaped the fruits of my labors.” -- Libby Bourgeois of Elk River

“My paternal grandmother was a “champion of cookies” in my family growing up. Each year our family gift was a turkey roaster filled with various holiday cookies that she would bake. The roaster was tied with scraps of cloth to keep it shut. I aspired as a young wife and mother to bake as well as she did. I don’t use my turkey roaster, but all year long, I save up Kemp’s ice cream pails to use to put my cookies in to give to family and friends.” -- Kristine Runck of New Ulm, Minn.

“My mom made these every Christmas . . . a nice variation from all those sugar cookies.” -- Kathy Papousek of Robbinsdale

“I challenge you to take time out of your busy schedules and enjoy the simple things in life. Get off the couch and put away the electronic devices. I can guarantee that you won’t have any regrets.” -- Patsy Athman of Pierz, Minn.

“As a young bride, I loved visiting my mother-in-law at Christmas and peeking into those vintage tins to discover beautiful cookies filled with rich flavors. Our family recently packed up her home in preparation for her next stage in life. Mom has Alzheimer’s now, so her home is no longer filled with the fragrances of her baking. Looking through her kitchen items, I found her index card notebook filled with her favorite recipes. How I remember consulting these handwritten notes, so precious now, because Mom no longer remembers these special recipes.” -- Linda Hansen of Albertville, Minn.

“My mom taught me many things which I am so thankful for and baking is one of them.” -- Liz McPherson of Apple Valley

“I love baking Christmas cookies, boxing them in tins and delivering them. It gives me an opportunity in an otherwise hectic life to connect with people who are important to me.” -- Jeanine Clapsaddle

“Every year I come up with a new holiday cookie to try. I love the adventure of trying something new.” -- Candace Freeman of Melrose, Minn.

“The role these cookies play in my holiday baking is they are a stalwart of my annual cookie baking open house. It’s an open house so guests can drop in or out and do as much baking as they want or just sit around and watch the rest of us; those who are there at the end get to take home a plate or two with all the varieties. I like this better than a cookie exchange because a big part of the fun is just hanging out together baking.” -- Margaret Lund

“Thirty years ago, the love of my life wasn’t the man I married . . . it was his mother. She was the warmest and kindest human being I have ever met. Carol was a down-to-earth cook with ancestors from Germany and Holland and she had recipes galore. One of my all-time-favorite recipes from Carol is ‘German Butter Cookies,’ a simple, elegant and delicious cookie that everyone loves. Enjoy.” -- Jeryl Mitchell of Rochester, Minn.

“Being Jewish we didn’t celebrate Christmas but my mother I loved bonding over Christmas cookie baking. My mother is in her tenth decade and this year we will continue ‘our’ Christmas tradition . . .I can’t wait.” -- Stephanie Wolkin of White Bear Lake


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