THE TOP BANANA CAKE . . . a delicious doodle to make!

Cakes lavished with icing appear to be attending a party.    They sashay onto your plate with a come-hither look, and you swoon with delight.  There’s banana muffins. There’s banana loaf.  But the top banana is this old-fashioned banana cake by my favorite cook-book writer, The Barefoot Contessa.

This is a no nonsense, never fail type of cake.  A doodle to whip up even if you don’t have a mixer.  It has a fine, moist crumb flavoured with orange zest and studded with walnuts.    And the icing is definitely “the icing on the cake”.   Cream cheese frosting  and banana cake is a marriage made in kitchen heaven.

This is the cake I make when bringing a dessert to a pot-luck supper.  It travels well.  It keeps well.  You can whip it up a day or so before serving.  And it slices beautifully.  Pop over to MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for the recipe.   Bon Appetit, dear friends.

 

 

 

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DECADENT DATE SQUARES . . . aka MATRIMONIAL SQUARES

I will never forget the first time I tasted date squares.  I was still in public school.    My best friend’s Mom was an excellent cook and baker.   One day after-school she served us a treat that  had me over the moon.  A sweet square that looked a little crumbly around the edges .  One bite and I was swooning over a rich, buttery, caramel enhanced oat crumb with an intensely exotic filling of dark, sweet dates.  She called these magical morsels matrimonial squares.   Even the name was wonderful.  Matrimonial squares.  Were these a special creation for weddings?  Or did they bring about marriage?

Date squares (matrimonial squares) were my first introduction to baking squares.  None of my cookbooks had a section for “squares”.    My cookbooks were published in the thirties and early forties and were all that was available.    I had started baking around l945.  I asked for the recipe and these many years later I  am still baking Mrs. Rybka’s Matrimonial Squares.

This old fashion square is a treat any time of day.  Date Squares are perfect with morning coffee (think of all those healthy rolled oats).  A sublime dessert lavished with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  They are calling you name from MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

BLUEBERRY SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE and the secret to baking with frozen blueberries

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We are surrounded by fields of blueberries.   In season  they are delicious eaten out of hand, sprinkled over home made ice cream  and  baked into muffins, pies and crumbles.  Our blueberry growing neighbors generously  share their bounty with us.  The season is short so I fill my freezer with bags of frozen blueberries.   Frozen blueberries juice turns cake and muffin batters an extremely unpleasant purplish green.    To avoid this simply rinse your frozen blueberries several times until the water runs almost clear.  Then dry them well – top and bottom – between several layers of paper towels.  Use immediately in your recipe.  I baked this sour cream coffee cake with frozen blueberries.  They are true blue.

Most recipes using frozen  or fresh blue berries suggest dusting them with flour to  keep them suspended in the batter.  In this recipe  you simply scatter them over the struesel topping.     The flour used in the sour cream coffee cake is cake flour.  If you don’t have it in your pantry  remove two tablespoons of flour from one cup and replace it with two tablespoons of corn starch.  Mix and sift well several times.   The cornstarch lowers the protein in the  flour and gives you a tender, lighter crumb.

This is a generous sized recipe.  It keeps well covered with a cake dome and  I serve it with an extravagant scoop of home-made vanilla ice cream.  Bon appetit dear friends.  The recipe awaits you in MRS BUTTERFINGERS’S  kitchen  –         BLUEBERRY SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE

 

 

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES . . . delicate light morsels of delight!

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Do we really need another peanut butter cookie recipe?  Absolutely!    When a peanut butter cookie recipe is this good it cries out to be shared.        I spent part of my summer with my two sisters in my home town,  Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  Sister Heather whipped up these melt-in-your-mouth morsels of delight to serve during a Duplicate Bridge Tournament.  What makes these cookies more than just another peanut butter cookie is their delicate lightness.  If you are a lover of all things peanut butter they are definitely worthy of adding to your collection of cookie recipes.

The secret to good cookie  making is to always cream your butter and sugar really well.  At least five or preferably ten minutes.  Then beat in the eggs thoroughly one at a time.  Stir in the flour briefly  – just until it is combined with the flour.  In this recipe it is ESSENTIAL to refrigerator the dough for at least one hour.

These  cookies are very rich.  Roll the dough into small one inch balls and bake on a parchment lined sheet.       Then if you really want to gild the lily, and make your bridge partner happy, melt some chocolate with heavy cream.  Let the chocolate cool and  sandwich the cookies with the ganache.    Such indulgence!

The recipe makes 50 to 60 cookies.   I set up an assembly line.  I prefer to bake my cookies one sheet at a time.  I have one batch of cookies in the oven.  One batch cooling.  And a third batch waiting to be baked.     To  balance the sweetness of the cookies I listen to  Tom Watts growl his way through his newest album BAD AS ME. 

The recipe awaits you in MRS BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.  DUPLICATE BRIDGE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES.

WALNUT CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD

 BEL’OCCHIO   …   the beautiful eye

WALNUT CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD

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I absolutely adore making quick breads.  True to their name you can whip them up quickly and serve them with morning coffee, afternoon tea, or as a midnight snack.

This oh so scrumptious bread  is a dynamite  combination of flavours.  The roasted walnuts are rich and crunchy, and the tart cranberries and orange zest create an explosion for your taste buds.   The recipe makes two loaves – one to enjoy fresh out of the oven the other to tuck in your freezer or share with a friend.   Click on WALNUT CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD and fill your kitchen with the heady baking aroma of this gorgeous quick bread.

 

OLD-FASHIONED PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

BEL’OCCHIO   …the beautiful eye

OLD-FASHIONED PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

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My tattered and torn Robin Hood Flour Baking cookbook holds so many treasured memories.   This small book of recipes was included with a bag of Robin Hood Flour.  The recipes are tried and true and more than fifty years old.

I love the way the caramelized buttery brown sugar compliments the tart pineapple. This simple to make recipe requires just one bowl.  All the ingredients are probably in your pantry.   You can use pineapple slices or pieces of pineapple.  If you want to be truly “old school” you can arrange maraschino cherries on top of the pineapple.

This is the kind of dessert you can whip up in a few minutes.  It is the perfect ending to a simple supper.    It is also a delicious treat with morning coffee or afternoon treat.

Click on OLD-FASHIONED PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE for this recipe.

MARVELOUS MOLASSES CRINKLES

 

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Used book stores and thrift shops can be a treasure house for old recipe books.    Recently I found an enormous book of “1,000 delicious kitchen-tested recipes”,  THE JOY OF CUISINE.  The book was dated 1983 and it was a delightful blast- from- the- past.

I appreciated the many budget-minded recipes in this book.   Rising food costs are making all of us dollar conscious.  This recipe for MOLASSES CRINKLES requires no expensive ingredients.  If you are a regular baker you’ll have everything required in the recipe in your pantry.

The combination of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and freshly ground black pepper (my addition) is positively addictive.   Baking these cookies will fill you kitchen with the most delicious of baking fragrances – spices.  Click on MOLASSES CRINKLES and you’ll have these little sweethearts coming out of the oven before you have your tea made.