Thursday, June 16, 2016

Savory Zucchini Cheesecake #BundtBakers

A cheesecake with a difference, this savory zucchini version is perfect sliced up and served on toasted bread or crackers. 

The best part of belonging to groups like Bread Bakers and Bundt Bakers is the challenge of creating a recipe to fit each month’s theme. We have a lot of talented bakers in both groups and sometimes it seems like they are trying to outdo each other when they host! The rule is that the host gets to choose the theme. If you’ve been reading along, you know that just in the last couple of months, we've baked Bundts inspired by the tales of Scheherazade and retro desserts, just to name two creative themes.

This month our host is Padmajha from Seduce Your Tastebuds and she has gone in an unusual direction for baking in a Bundt pan: Savory! I immediately thought of the little savory shrimp cheesecakes I baked a couple of years ago for Sunday Supper and I knew a larger Bundt would be delicious. Since summer is the season of an overload of zucchinis (courgettes to my Australian/British readers), I decided to incorporate them to help those gardeners with the surplus. You are welcome!

Drizzle of olive oil, for oiling the Bundt pan
2 cups or 230g zucchini, unpeeled & grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 large eggs
leaves from few sprigs fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup or 35g minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 fresh jalapeño, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups or 485g whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup or 50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Optional, to garnish:
Zest of one lemon
Thyme leaves

Tip: Use a microplane to zest the lemon onto a paper towel and set it aside early in the process. When it's time to sprinkle the lemon zest on your savory Bundt, it will be quite dry and sprinkle-able. Damp zest tends to clump together. 

Preheat oven to 325°F or 163°C. Drizzle about a teaspoon or so of olive oil in your 10-cup Bundt pan. I used this square one from Nordic Ware. (<affiliate link) The square design makes cutting slices to top bread or crackers much tidier. Use a pastry brush to get the oil in all the little corners and crevices of your chosen pan.

In a colander, toss the grated zucchini with the salt and set it aside to drain either in the sink or with a bowl underneath. It’s amazing how much liquid comes out.

Whisk your eggs with the thyme leaves and a good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl.

Add in the onion, garlic and jalapeño and mix again.

Squeeze the grated zucchini to get out as much liquid as you possible can, then add it to the bowl.

Add the lemon juice and the flour and mix well.

Now fold in the ricotta and the Parmesan. Give the whole thing another good few grinds of black pepper. Can you tell I am a fan?

Spoon the cheese mixture into the pan and smooth out the top.

Bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the cheesecake is still just set. It will set more as it cools.

Leave it on a wire rack for about half an hour or until it looks fairly firm. Now here’s the tricky bit. You need to put your serving plate on top of the pan and turn the whole thing over in one swift but steady movement. You do not want one side of the cheesecake to fall out before the other. I ran a toothpick around the edges and tipped mine from side to side to loosen it first. (Don’t use a knife or you might mar the non-stick finish of a Nordic Ware pan.)

Mix your thyme leaves and lemon zest together and sprinkle them both on the cheesecake.

Serve with sliced baguette or crackers. And perhaps a celebratory beverage.


Many thanks this month to our host, Padmajha. Making a savory Bundt was a great challenge! Many thanks also to Renee of Magnolia Days who made sure this all ran smoothly.

Check out all the wonderful ways my fellow Bundt Bakers met the challenge.


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the Bundt Bakers home page.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Apricot Kolaches #BreadBakers

Kolaches are a Texas breakfast treat that can be either savory, think sausage and cheese or sweet, usually with a fruit filling. The filling in these apricot kolaches isn’t traditional but they are delicious. 

Houston has a homegrown doughnut chain called Shipley Do-Nuts, one location mere minutes from our house there. It’s a treat to go early in the morning and get a dozen of their hot glazed doughnuts, fresh out of the fryer. The place smells of sweet sugar and fresh coffee and since there’s no place to sit and eat, folks are lined up to place their orders to go. They even have a drive-through. This is Houston, after all. Everyone drives everywhere. And since it’s also Texas, Shipley's makes kolaches. My personal favorite is jalapeño sausage with cheese. Divine.

So why are kolaches typical in Texas? There are many towns and rural areas where folks from Czechoslovakia came to settle during the mid- to late 19th century. Along with their devotion to the Catholic Church, strong work ethic and love of polka music, they brought their kolache making tradition. If you are ever headed to Texas, make sure to check the events calendar for a Czech Fest. Taking place in several towns, the fun starts on Labor Day weekend with the biggest, Westfest. While many of the Czech fests include a kolache baking contest, they all have polka bands and you will be required drink cold beer and get up and dance. It’s a rule.

This month’s Bread Bakers challenge is to use stone fruit like cherries, peaches, nectarines, mangoes and the like. Problem is, except for mangoes, the stone fruit that is imported to Dubai never really smells or tastes of properly ripened summer fruit. Traditional fruit kolaches have a cooked fruit filling in a sweetened yeast dough so I could have made do. After all, every fruit is sweet if you cook it down with sugar. I decided to use canned apricot halves and leave them whole instead. Just because I think they are pretty that way.

The dough divides nicely into 18 pieces, but my can of apricots was short one half. No problem, I filled that final kolac (<that’s the singular) with some homemade preserves, in this case, fig. You could actually do the same with all of your kolaches if you can't be bothered to make filling.

This recipe calls for chilling the dough in the refrigerator overnight so start one day ahead of when you’d like to serve these kolaches. This is ideal since then they can be fresh baked for breakfast.

Ingredients for 18 kolaches
For the apricot filling:
1 can apricot halves (net wt. 410g, drained wt. 240g) in syrup
1/4 cup or sugar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the dough:
1 cup or 245g sour cream
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup or 113g butter, melted and cooled, plus more for buttering the dough bowl
2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup or 120ml lukewarm water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4-5 cups or 510g strong white bread flour

For the crumb topping:
1/4 cup or 42g all-purpose flour
1/8 cup, firmly packed, or 25g brown sugar
1/8 cup or 25g granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

To assemble the kolaches:
≈ 2 tablespoons fine semolina

Take your eggs and sour cream out of the refrigerator and leave them to come to close to room temperature.

Drain the apricot halves and put the syrup in a small pot. Lay the apricots out on some paper towels to dry.

Cook the syrup with the sugar over a medium low heat until the liquid has reduced to about 1/3 cup. Add in the butter and salt and stir well. Add in the apricot halves and set aside to cool. Once cool, the syrup turns into a kind of jelly. Refrigerate the apricots and jelly when the dough rests overnight.

Put the yeast in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer. Add 1 tablespoon from the sugar for the dough and the warm water. Leave to proof for a few minutes.

Add the butter, sour cream, egg, sugar and salt into the mixing bowl. Beat until well combined.

Add in four cups or 385g of the bread flour and beat well. The dough will become quite thick but still very soft and sticky.

Use your bread hook to add in the last cup or 125g bread flour and knead for a few minutes. It's still going to be pretty soft and sticky but, fear not, it will be easy to handle once chilled.

Put the dough into a buttered bowl, cover with cling film and pop it in the refrigerator. Let it rest overnight.

When you are ready to bake the next morning, take the apricots and dough out of the refrigerator.

Cut the dough in half. Then cut each of those halves into three equal parts. Then divide the three parts into three more. This should give you 18 reasonably equal pieces of dough.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Roll the dough pieces into small balls and place them evenly spaced on the lined baking sheets.

Cover the balls lightly with cling film and set in a warm, draft-free place to rest for 10 minutes.

Use your fingers and thumbs to press out an indentation in the middle of each ball that’s large enough for your apricot halves.

Sprinkle a healthy pinch of fine semolina – perhaps a 1/4 teaspoon – into each indentation.

Add about 1/2-3/4 a teaspoon of the jellied apricot syrup into each as well. Tuck a half apricot in on top of the jelly.

Combine the all-purpose flour, sugars and butter in a food processor and pulse until crumbly to make the crumble topping.

Sprinkle the crumble liberally on top of the apricots. Set the pans in a warm, draft free place for about 30 minutes.

When the resting time is almost up, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Bake the kolaches in your preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown.

There's the fig preserves one, top right. 

Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Polka music optional.

Many thanks to Mireille from The Schizo Chef for hosting Bread Bakers this month. Are you ready to get baking with stone fruit? We’ve got plenty of great recipes for you!

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Personal Banana Cream Pie

A personal banana cream pie is the perfect way to tell Dad how much you love him. All the delicious sweetness of a full size pie that he doesn’t have to share.

It’s a tradition in our house that my husband gets a banana cream pie at least twice a year, for his birthday in March and Father’s Day in June. For years I made it. When they got old enough, our girls took over, at least on Father’s Day. Now they both live away from home and it’s back to me again. Making banana cream pie is something I do willingly because the joy on his face is worth the time and effort.

This year, with only two of us at home, and one who doesn’t really eat sweet things much (me), I decided it made more sense to make a personal banana cream pie. Cut in half, it’s two very generous pieces and you can guess who enjoyed both of them!

When a whole 10-inch pie is just too much pie, downsize! If you want to make a full size banana cream pie.<click there.

For the custard:
1/3 cup or 66g sugar
1/4 cup or 31g flour
Good pinch salt
1 2/3 cups or 395ml milk
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons butter

For a 7-in pie crust:
1 cup or 125g all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
1⁄4 cup or 57g shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons cold water

To assemble the pie and serve:
2 medium bananas, ripe but not soft
3/4 cup or 180ml heavy whipping cream

To make the custard:
In a large saucepan (no heat!) mix sugar, flour and salt.  Stir in milk until smooth.

Over medium heat, cook mixture, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and begins to boil (about 10 minutes). Boil one minute. Remove immediately from heat and set aside.

Separate your egg yolks from your whites, putting the whites directly into a sealable plastic container for the refrigerator. (You can make meringues or almond macaroons with these later.) Put the yolks in a bowl with enough room to whisk.

Beat egg yolks quickly with a whisk, while drizzling in about a 1/8 cup of the hot milk mixture. Quick beating and slow drizzling are essential so that you don’t end up with cooked eggs.

Slowly pour egg mixture into the saucepan, stirring rapidly to prevent lumping. I stopped whisking briefly to take the photo. You just keep whisking!

Over low heat, cook, stirring constantly, until very thick (do not boil) and mixture mounds when dropped from spoon.

Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.  Congratulations, you have made homemade vanilla custard.  Once the butter has melted and you've mixed it and the vanilla completely in, pour the custard into a metal bowl. Cover its surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, about two hours.

While the custard is chilling, we'll make the pie crust. Preheat your oven to 425°F or 218°C.

In medium bowl using a fork, lightly stir together the flour and salt.

With a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle in the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with a fork after each addition until pastry just holds together.

Use your hands to shape the pastry into a ball. Wrap it in cling film and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Lightly flour your clean work surface. With lightly floured rolling pin, roll pastry into circle 1⁄8 inch thick and about 2 inches larger all around than pie plate.

Transfer the circle to your pie plate.

Fold overhang under; then pinch to make a decorative edge. Prick bottom and side of crust all over with a fork, to prevent puffing during baking.

Line the crust with a circle of baking parchment and cover with baking beads or dried beans.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove the baking beads. Set aside.

Once your custard is cool, you can peel your bananas. Cut them in half lengthwise. Spread a little of the custard in the bottom of your baked piecrust and then add a layer of bananas.

Spread the rest of the custard all over the bananas, making sure to fill in the gaps so that there is no air around the bananas.  This will prevent them from going brown.

Securely cover the custard with plastic wrap once more and put the pie back in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

Just before serving: In small bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Heap cream on pie. One of my husband's policies is that there is no such thing as too much cream.


Check out this great list of recipes from my Sunday Supper family! Everybody is sharing their dads' favorites today. Many thanks to our host this week, Sarah from The Chef Next Door.

Appetizers, Snacks and Beverages
Condiments & Sauces
Side Dishes
Main Dishes