Mom’s Apple Crisp

Sorry for my negligence this past month or so! My best friend just got married and the weekends have been filled with all sorts of wedding related events. Since the wedding was near my parent’s house, I had a chance to stop by over the weekend. My mom and dad have several apple trees that are laden with fruit this time of year. My mom has been cranking out apple sauce, apple pies, and other apple treats. I lucked out because a fresh  apple crisp was sitting on the counter when I got home.

My mom and I use the same crisp recipe, so you can find the recipe under my strawberry/rhubarb crisp post. Just replace the strawberries/rhubarb with apples and a sprinkling of cinnamon. My mom also added some shredded coconut to her topping to give it an extra crunch when it browned in the oven. This crisp was sooooo good!!!!

Recipe (replace the strawberry/rhubarb with apples)! If you want to use a 9×13″ pan like my mom did, just double the recipe


Plum Crumb Coffee Cake

We still have plums from our 4th of July Plum Picking extravaganza! I’ve been eating them raw and baking them in yummy sweet treats. The most recent creation was a delicious crumb coffee cake.

I had a blueberry coffee cake recipe on hand, but decided to mix plums into the batter instead. I tossed the plums in a bit of flour before putting them in the batter, hoping to prevent all the fruit from sinking. I’m glad to report that the fruit dispersed evenly throughout the cake.

I also wanted big crumbs on top of my cake, isn’t that the best part of coffee cake anyways? I found a topping recipe that didn’t disappoint!

It smelled amazing when it came out of the oven!

Cake Recipe:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups fresh sliced plums
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease and line an 8×8″ pan with parchment paper.
Cream sugar and butter together until fluffy with a handheld mixer. Then beat in the egg and vanilla. In another bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to sugar and butter mixture in 3 stages, alternating with the milk. Dust plums with flour then mix into the batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Now make the topping!

Topping Recipe: Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker post
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and warm
1 3/4 cups cake flour
Combine sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a  bowl. Add flour and mix with a rubber spatula until mixture comes together in a thick pasty dough. Cool about 15 minutes.
Crumble into pea-sized pieces and spread evenly over the cake batter.
Bake at 350 F degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes until done, test with toothpick. Let cool and enjoy!


Upside Down Plum Cake

I went plum picking in my Aunt’s backyard over the 4th and couldn’t wait to get baking with the ripe fruit! My first thought was to make a plum crisp. However, since I’ve recently made a few crisps with rhubarb, strawberries, and cherries I decided to try something different. I settled on a plum cake. The cake is similar to a pineapple upside down cake, with plums replacing the pineapple.

The first step was to make the plum layer at the bottom. This required halving the plums to discard the seeds, quite a messy, juicy job! I arranged the sliced plums on the bottom of a pan. I cooked sugar and water over the stove and poured it over the plums. It hardened instantly, just like when you make flan (it turns back to syrup once you bake it). It looked like glass artwork.

Next I made cake batter to spread over the hardened plum layer. Then into the oven it went! When I took the cake out of the oven you could see the plums simmering in the sugar liquid on the bottom.

Once the cake cooled a bit I turned it out onto a plate … I tried it when it was still warm. Yum!

Slice of cake

Recipe: (Adapted from Ina Garten “Plum Cake Tatin” on the Food Network website)

  • plums, halved and pitted (enough to cover the bottom of a 9″ pie pan)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and cover the bottom with plums, cut side down. Combine  sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat until it turns a golden color, periodically swirl the pan. Be watchful, the sugar will go from golden to burnt quickly. Pour evenly over the plums, it should harden. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar with handheld or stand mixer  until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla then mix. In another bowl sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently add to the butter mixture in three stages. Mix until combined.

Pour the cake batter over the plum layer. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then flip the cake onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Throwback to Cherries Jubilee

Cherries jubilee … this dessert seems so old school! It was popular in the 50’s and 60’s, gracing fancy restaurant menus. These days this dessert seems pretty forgotten. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this option on a restaurant dessert menu, and my mom sure never made it! I had some very ripe cherries on their last leg in the fridge, and for some reason this dessert popped into mind (maybe I’ve been watching too much Mad Men, or the word jubilee is stuck in my head from the recent Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration). Regardless, I decided to give it a try!

Cherries jubilee is a cooked cherry/liqueur sauce that is flambeed at the end. It is usually served warm over vanilla ice cream.

The sauce by itself!

Time to dig in before the ice cream melts


1/8 cup white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon of meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)

1/2 pound sweet Bing cherries (pitted)

1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange or lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 cup brandy

vanilla ice cream

Combine sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Whisk in water and lemon juice. Whisk over medium-high heat until the mixture is thick and begins boiling. Add cherries and zest, then simmer for 10 -12 minutes. Warm the brandy in the microwave (about 10 seconds). Remove the cherries from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract and brandy. Ignite the mixture with a long lighter, shake gently until the blue flame burns out.
Let the mixture cool slightly, then pour the warm cherries over vanilla ice cream!

Blackberry and Strawberry Shortcake Sandwiches

My little brother graduated college this weekend in Santa Cruz! It was an exciting, family-filled weekend. Before the ceremony we checked out a farmer’s market in Santa Cruz, where we got yummy pizza from a mobile pizza oven (crazy!) and flavor packed gorditas sopes, and agua frescas from a Mexican stand. After the ceremony we proceeded up gorgeous Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay, where we dined on fresh seafood and prime rib. As we drove up the coast we saw numerous stands selling strawberries. I didn’t have a chance to purchase any of these berries, but it did remind me that strawberries are still in season!

I was back in San Francisco Sunday, and was thinking about those strawberry stands off Highway 1. I decided to go to the farmer’s market and pick some up. I bought a generous amount along with some blackberries. They taste like candy!

Now that I had the sweet, juicy berries, I thought of things to make. No way I was going to bake them, they had to be eaten in their raw form. I decided to make some strawberry shortcake! As I often do (why can’t I just follow a recipe?), I made my own spin on strawberry shortcake.

Strawberry shortcake already has so many variations, but when when I think of a traditional version I think of a sweet biscuit, piled high with strawberries and whipped cream. My shortcake was a cross between a soft cookie and traditional shortcake. The texture was a soft interior with crisp edges. They reminded me more of a cookie since they baked up pretty flat. The texture was much more delicate, and much lighter, than a typical biscuit-like shortcake. I’ve had many bland shortcakes in the past, so I pumped mine up by using buttermilk, orange zest, and vanilla extract to give it extra flavor.

I sliced the strawberries and let them macerate in a sprinkling of sugar and their own juices. I left the blackberries as they were.

When it was time to assemble the dessert I split the cakes, and piled them high with the macerated strawberries and fresh blackberries.


I topped with some light french vanilla ice cream before capping the dessert with the cake top. What a refreshing summer dessert!


1 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold butter

2/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a pastry cutter (or in food processor) cut in cold butter, until butter is in pea-sized pieces. In a separate bowl mix buttermilk with orange zest and vanilla extract. Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Using a #30 ice cream scoop, scoop onto a baking pan. Cook at 375 F for 12 minutes.

Slice desired amount of strawberries and sprinkle with sugar as needed (depends on sweetness of berries). Let sit for 30 minutes or so.

To assemble, slice the cakes (or use one whole cake as your base depending on the thickness you want for your cake, I like a thin layer of cake so I sliced mine). Top with strawberries, blackberries (if you have them), and any other berries you’d like to use. Put a scoop of ice cream on top of the berries. Place the top of the sliced cake on top. Enjoy!

Bananas for Banana Cake

Check the updated recipe on Real Working Girl

How often do you find yourself with overripe bananas sitting on the counter? That happens here a lot. Actually, I will intentionally buy extra bananas just to let them sit and get brown and squishy. Once they are sufficiently beyond the stage of eating raw, I usually proceed to make banana bread. But not this time … I wanted to try something a little different, banana cake! Recently I came across a banana cake recipe that drew me in, from a blog called Butteryum. Contrary to this blog’s title this cake actually had very little butter, which I am a fan of. It calls for two, just 2, tablespoons of butter for an 8×8 cake. Most cakes this size usually call for a full stick of butter! I knew I had to try this cake, and that it would be moist with the mashed bananas and sour cream (I used light sour cream to further reduce the calories)!

You may be wondering how this is different from banana bread. For starters there is a silky frosting. You don’t find that on banana bread! Also, I add brown sugar to my banana bread, giving it a deep, almost molasses flavor. This cake is different, it has a lighter crumb and texture. It’s even lighter in color reminding me more of a cake.
Here is the recipe, adapted from Butteryum! I used a different frosting recipe.
Cake: 2/3 cup sugar 1/2 cup light sour cream 1 egg 2 tablespoons butter, softened 3/4 cup mashed ripe bananas 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Cream together sugar and butter with a hand held mixer. Beat in the egg. Once incorporated beat in the sour cream. Add bananas and vanilla extract, then mix everything together. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Fold dry mixture into the banana mixture with a rubber spatula. Mix until incorporated, don’t over mix! Pour into a greased 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before frosting. Frosting: 2 tablespoons butter, softened 3 ounces light cream cheese 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon milk 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth with a hand held mixer. Add the milk and vanilla extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Taste the frosting for sweetness as you go (some people like their frosting sweeter than others). Beat until smooth. Frost the cooled cake. Check out my new blog for more delicious recipes:

Cherry Season is here

Yay for cherry season! In northern California, cherries can be found at any grocery store or farmer’s market right now. I like the deep red, juicy, sweet bing cherries. They are so delicious! I’ve been putting them over greek yogurt for breakfast and eating them for an afternoon snack. These cherries also bake up nicely, so I decided to make a dessert. I contemplated making either a cobbler or a crisp. I settled on a crisp. I just made a strawberry/rhubarb crisp a couple weeks ago, but I was still craving that oatmeal, brown sugar, buttery topping! The cherries baked down and released a rich, syrupy juice, but still maintained their shape. Perfect for a crisp filling!

I bought a cherry pitter for about $10. I think it’s worth it, it saves a lot of labor and effort! It’s kind of fun to use too.

I used the same recipe as the strawberry/rhubarb crisp. I simply replaced the strawberry and rhubarb with fresh, pitted bing cherries.