Orange Rosemary Pecan Zucchini Bread

 

Orange Rosemary Pecan Zucchini Bread with Orange-Honey Butter | Korena in the Kitchen

Unlike most gardens at this time of year, my garden is NOT overflowing with zucchini. All summer I’ve had two zucchini plants busily putting out flowers, but zucchini have both male and female flowers which need to be cross-pollinated in order for the little baby squash at the base of the female flower to grow, and my plants just couldn’t seem to coordinate their schedules to have both kinds of flower blooming at the same time. My potential zukes never got past this stage before shriveling up and dying (very depressing). And now the plants are succumbing to dusty mildew, so my homegrown zucchini dreams are over for this summer. Sadness.

Orange Rosemary Pecan Zucchini Bread with Orange-Honey Butter | Korena in the Kitchen

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Daring Bakers: Charlotte Royale

Rhubarb and Custard Charlotte Royale | Korena in the Kitchen

For the June Daring Bakers challenge Rebecca from BakeNQuilt.com challenged us to make Charlotte Royale and Charlotte Russe from scratch. Savory or sweet Charlottes were definitely tasty showstoppers.

As a kid, I remember seeing the Charlotte aux Bluets recipe in the Canadian Living 20th Anniversary Cookbook and thinking that it was the pinnacle of sophisticated and elegant desserts, so you could say that doing this month’s challenge was sort of like ticking an item off my bucket list. The Charlotte (Royale or Russe) is a chilled dessert based on Bavarian cream or mousse, either molded into a domed shape and covered in slices of jelly roll (Royale), or spooned into a loose-bottomed cake pan and fenced in around the edges by lady fingers (Russe). I had plans to make both versions this month, but only managed to get the Royale completed. Russe is still on my list!

Rhubarb and Custard Charlotte Royale | Korena in the Kitchen

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Sourdough Plum and Almond Cream Galettes with Thyme

Sourdough Plum and Almond Cream Galettes with Thyme | Korena in the KitchenAs much as I love making pies, the simplicity and ease of a galette is pretty hard to beat. No fancy equipment needed, no special skills or pastry techniques – just a good pie crust recipe and some perfectly ripe fruit. It’s still pretty early in the season for local fruit around here, so I used plums from California. I absolutely love the tart, jammy flavour of cooked plums, and they are just gorgeous when baked: the gradient from yellow flesh to reddish-purple skin is so pleasing. I added a little bit of fresh thyme (plums love thyme, believe me) and some almond cream underneath the fruit, because it helps to soak up some of the fruit juices that inevitably leak out of a galette, and also, YUM.

Sourdough Plum and Almond Cream Galettes with Thyme | Korena in the Kitchen

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Daring Bakers: Lamingtons

Classic Lamingtons | Korena in the KitchenFor the May challenge Marcellina from Marcellina in Cucina dared us to make Lamingtons, an Australian delicacy that is as tasty as it is elegant.

The story goes that these little treats came about after a serving maid dropped some squares of sponge cake in chocolate icing, and her boss, Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland, suggested that rather than throwing them out, she roll them in coconut “to avoid sticky fingers”. I’m not entirely sure that this story is water-tight, however, as the Lamington is also claimed by New Zealand and is known as cupavci in Bosnia. But regardless of who came up with them, they are a good idea.

Classic Lamingtons | Korena in the Kitchen

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Mini Vanilla-Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake

Creamsicle Cheesecake | Korena in the Kitchen

This year for his birthday, Nate requested a creamsicle cheesecake. I’ll admit that the creamsicle combination of creamy vanilla ice cream with orange isn’t usually my first choice – especially when there is creamy vanilla ice cream with chocolate to be had instead – but since it was his birthday, I acquiesced. Compared to the chocolate caramel bacon insanity cake from his birthday a few years ago, it was a relatively simple request.

Creamsicle Cheesecake | Korena in the Kitchen

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The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie | Korena in the KitchenI’ve been looking for the “perfect” chocolate chip cookie for about as long as I’ve been baking cookies. What I wanted was a fairly straight-forward method that didn’t involve a complete re-design of the chocolate chip cookie or an overnight rest in the fridge (because when I want chocolate chip cookies, I want them now, not tomorrow). I’ve tried the original Toll House recipe, dabbled in thin/crispy versions, large/cakey versions, changed baking times and temperatures, and  tried different flours, all of which promised to give the “perfect” cookie but just… didn’t.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie | Korena in the Kitchen

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Daring Bakers: Sweet or Savoury Sourdough Focaccia

Sourdough Focaccia | Korena in the KitchenFor the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch.

As soon as I saw this month’s Daring Bakers challenge, I knew exactly what I wanted to make: raisin focaccia. While not as well known as savoury, rosemary and salt topped focaccia, apparently this sweet version is a well-loved breakfast item in the Ligurian region of Italy. I’d had a recipe bookmarked for quite a while, and this seemed like the perfect chance to finally make it, so I did. However, I should have known better when the recipe only specified three minutes of kneading and no bulk fermentation. The resulting focaccia was pretty “meh” tasting, and it lacked so much in structure that it fell apart when I tried to take it out of the pan. Sadly, raisin focaccia round one was a big ol’ FAIL.

raisin focaccia fail | Korena in the Kitchen

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Chocolate-Dipped Vanilla-Almond Sourdough Biscotti

Chocolate-Dipped Vanilla-Almond Sourdough Biscotti | Korena in the Kitchen

After making a chocolate-hazelnut sourdough biscotti a few years ago, I concluded that sourdough biscotti was just a novelty and not actually a practical way to make biscotti or use sourdough. So I’m not sure what it says about me when I decided to participate in this month’s Sourdough Surprises project, which was – you guessed it – sourdough biscotti, AND decided to use the same recipe as the base. I guess maybe it says I’m drawn to novelty and prone to impracticality. But whatever: I have biscotti.

Chocolate-Dipped Vanilla-Almond Sourdough Biscotti | Korena in the Kitchen

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Daring Bakers: Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin | Korena in the Kitchen

For the March Daring Bakers’ Challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She challenged us to make a tarte Tatin from scratch.

This month I was excited to host another Daring Bakers’ challenge, for which I chose the tarte Tatin. This classic French dessert is basically the apple pie version of an upside-down cake: apples are caramelized in sugar in a saucepan, covered with pastry and baked, and then inverted on a plate to serve. It’s a great example of the magic of caramelized sugar: the apples take on a deep, rich mahogany colour and become infused with the complex flavours of a well-cooked caramel, and the crisp puff pastry base also becomes practically candied with caramel at the edges, resulting in a fantastic mix of soft, crunchy, and chewy textures.

The tart is named after the Tatin sisters, who ran a hotel near Paris in the 1880s. Apparently, one day one of the sisters forgot to put a bottom crust on her apple pie, but instead of the disaster she was expecting to pull out of the oven, she ended up with a dessert so loved by the hotel guests that it became the hotel’s signature dish. However, this sweet story conflicts with the fact that a similar upside-down apple tart called tarte Solognotte (named after the Sologne region in France) existed long before the tarte Tatin, suggesting that the Tatin sisters’ creation was actually just an updated and improved version of the tarte Solognotte. Either way, it is a stunningly delicious yet simple and rustic dessert….

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