For me, holiday baking doesn’t just include what would be served on the holiday itself, but it also includes breakfast breads and desserts for the days surrounding the holidays. That is because I usually have family or house guests visiting for several days over a holiday. So I plan ahead and bake several breakfast items that can be heated and served and have at least one or two desserts on hand. Here are recipes for a few favorites that are all easy to make.
Lemony Ricotta Pie
Ricotta pie or cheesecake are very popular in our family.
2 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 large eggs
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Candied lemon and orange peel
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the crust ingredients and press into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie pan.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until a light golden brown. Remove from the oven.
For the filling:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sugar and honey and whisk. Add the ricotta, salt and lemon flavoring.
Whisk until thoroughly mixed. Pour into the pie pan over the baked crust.
Return the pie to the oven and bake for about 60 minutes until the filling is completely set.
Remove the pie from the oven and set on a cooling rack.
Decorate the top of the pie with pieces of candied lemon and orange peel.
When cooled to room temperature, refrigerate until serving time.
Easy Pecan Sticky Buns
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup large pecan halves
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Lightly grease a glass 9″ round cake pan or pie pan.
To make the syrup:
Melt the butter in the glass pan in the microwave. Add the brown sugar and maple syrup.
Stir well and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place the pecan halves over the syrup in a single layer.
To make the dough:
Stir together the flour and cream to make a smooth dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.
Gently roll the dough into a 12″ x 8″ rectangle.
To make the cinnamon filling:
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans in a small mixing bowl.
Spread the softened butter over the entire surface of the dough.
Roll the dough into a log. Position it so the seam is facing down.
Slice the log into 10 pieces, and place them in the prepared pan.
Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, until they’re bubbly and lightly browned on top.
Remove the buns from the oven, and immediately turn them out onto a serving plate.
Scrape any leftover syrup from the pan onto the buns.
To serve later, cool completely, then wrap well and store at room temperature for up to a couple of days.
Reheat in a 325 degree oven. Freeze for longer storage.
Adapted from a King Arthur recipe.
Jumbo Blueberry Muffins
Makes 6 muffins
3 cups all-purpose flour (lightly scoop, don’t pack down)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Chopped walnuts and coarse sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 425 F degrees. Spray a jumbo 6-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, gently toss together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until combined. Add the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and whisk.
Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together with a spatula. Avoid over mixing. Fold in the blueberries.
Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Top with a sprinkle of walnuts and coarse sugar.
Bake at 425 F degrees for 5 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F degrees and continue to bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops are lightly golden and a cake tester comes out clean when placed into the center of the muffins.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool.
Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Muffins freeze well for up to 3 months.
This time of year is great for baking. Spring has its own flavor profiles. Winter is a time for cinnamon, nutmeg, spice and chocolate. Spring is the time to shed those heavy flavors and transition to lighter flavors such as citrus, herbs and berries. This is the time to lighten up desserts and have a little fun trying out new flavor combinations. I do all our baking – breads and desserts- but I don’t like very sweet things, so our breads and desserts tend to be on the savory side or fruit based.
These are not your typical scones. Instead of butter, the recipe uses cream. I serve them with lemon curd. You can also dust them with powdered sugar before serving.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 10 ounces dried figs, diced small
- 2 cups heavy cream, cold
- ¼ cup honey
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the diced figs.
In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and honey.
Using a wooden spoon, stir the heavy cream mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until the ingredients are moistened.
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until a soft dough forms, sprinkling more flour in if needed. Divide the dough into two equal balls.
Working with one at a time, pat each one into an 8-inch circle and cut into 8 triangles. Transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pecan Sourdough Bread
- 1 cup (about 8 ounces) fed sourdough starter, room temperature
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup pumpernickel flour
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 cups chopped pecans
Mix all of the ingredients (except the nuts) in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook attachment.
Add the nuts, kneading until they’re evenly incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for 2 hours.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a long loaf. Place the log into a long stoneware baker that has been lined with parchment.
Cover the loaf, and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it springs back very slowly when lightly pressed.
Place the covered stoneware baker into a cold oven, set the oven to 400°F and bake for 40 minutes. Take the cover off and cook an additional 10-15 minutes.
Check the bread. The internal temperature should be about 190°F when measured on an instant-read thermometer. If not, bake for a few minutes longer.
Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a rack. Yield: 1 loaf.
1 (9″) refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature or make the cream cheese pastry recipe below
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
- 8 ounces cold cream cheese, diced
- 1 tablespoon cold milk
- 3 cups blackberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt and thyme and pulse about 5 times to evenly distribute the thyme. Add butter and pulse until it is the size of peas.
Add cream cheese and pulse until a dough begins to form. Add milk and pulse until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 12-inch round. Fold the round in half, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and unfold the round.
In a bowl, lightly stir together the berries, lemon juice, ¼ cup sugar and flour.
Spoon the filling onto the dough, leaving a 2-inch border uncovered around the edge.
Fold the edge up and over the filling, forming loose pleats.
Brush dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar.
Bake until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown, about 25 minutes.
Transfer the galette to a wire rack and let cool. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream or frozen yogurt.
Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Bread
This savory bread goes very well with scrambled eggs or an omelet.
- 3 cups (390 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoons salt (omit if you use salted butter)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 3 cups grated zucchini (from about 1 pound of zucchini), squeezed dry
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and dust the bottom with flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and rosemary.
Beat the eggs in a mixer until frothy. Beat in the sugar. Beat in the melted butter, olive oil and milk. Stir in the lemon zest and grated zucchini.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, a third at a time, stirring after each incorporation.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes. If you gently press down on the surface of the loaf, it should bounce back and a bamboo skewer or toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
Remove the pan from the oven. Let cool for a few minutes and then remove the loaf from the pan to cool on a rack.
Healthy Fruit and Oat Bars
These easy-to-make granola bars are lower in fat than many commercial snack bars and don’t have any of the additives or preservatives. I store them individually in zip-lock snack bags in the freezer. My husband is a golfer and he loves to put one in his bag on golfing days.
- ½ cup refrigerated egg substitute or 2 eggs
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups oats
- 1 cup dried fruit (apricots, berries, cranberries, etc.) chopped
- 1 cup walnuts or nuts of choice, chopped
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Use a silicone dessert bar pan and coat with cooking spray. Place the pan on a cookie sheet
In a large bowl, whisk the egg substitute, brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, salt and vanilla extract.
Stir in the oats, dried fruit, nuts and flour.
Divide the mixture evenly in the pan and flatten each slightly with a spatula.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool; turn out.
Put each bar in a zip-lock snack bag and place bags in a larger freezer bag to store in freezer.