This page has moved to a new address.

the urban baker

the urban baker: January 2010

the urban baker

The Urban Baker is deliciously photographed blog about nourishing your family's soul through life in the kitchen. The recipes for fabulous savories and sweets are easily replicated and will inspire you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cranberries and Vanilla Crumble

I bought a new book. Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies & More by Cory Schreiber & Julie Richardson. I had been wanting this book ever since I made their Lemon-Blueberry Buckle, last summer. The recipe had been published in the NY Times and that was one delicious buckle.

This is a beautiful and simple book. This is a beautiful and simple cake.

Everyone LOVED this treat, including Isaac, my savory, Dorito loving child. Levi, the visual eater even liked it and asked for more. Regardless that it was laced with fruit and the fruit was "visible", he still asked for seconds. Eli said it was probably the best thing I ever made and I, who generally is very hard on my efforts, adored this cake.

The vanilla crumb topping is hands down, the best crumb topping, ever and the cake is light, moist and not at all too sweet.

I can't wait to make EVERYTHING in this book. And one day, when I do open up my tiny little hole in the wall, this type of cake will be at the top of the menu!

This is another must have book!


Sugar Coated Popovers

This past week, I have been reading some of my favorite cookbooks. One in particular is Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts. Simultaneously, I had received my weekly newsletter, blog update from David Lebovitz (love his updates, his writing and his photography. he inspires me!). His most recent post is about Maida Heatter, pop overs and Amanda Hesser, another favorite of mine. If you haven't read Cooking for Mr. Latte, you must.

He posted about a modified version of Ms. Heatter's popovers. I love popovers. I love them most right out of the oven. However, these popovers are covered in cinnamon sugar. This is as close to a doughnut one will get without all the grease fat. These are a cross between a biscuit, doughnut and a beignet. Just imagine these dipped in vat of your best chocolate sauce. Ooooooooooo!

These are the perfect Sunday morning treat. These are made in a blender. In a blender! How easy is that!

I think I put too much batter in my pop over tins. Had I filled them up 1/2 way rather than 3/4 of the way, these would have cooked through and would not have tasted so "eggy". I am sure they would have been dryer, just like a popover should be (like the ones at Neiman Marcus-that is one perfect popover).

Regardless, they were still good. I want to make them again and possibly make them in mini muffin tins. Bite-size popovers rolled in cinnamon sugar. Hmmmm...that could be wonderful!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

My house smells so good right now. I have a Chocolate Zucchini Cake in the oven as I write this and I can't wait to take it out of the oven.

This morning, Levi and I went to the farmer's market. The sun was shining for the first time in a week (rare for L.A.) and EVERYONE was out, enjoying the sunshine and the market. We got so many wonderful fruits and veggies; kale, chard, grapes, strawberries, turnips, zucchini, purple cauliflower, field greens, fresh herbs, potatoes - all kinds, plus so much more.

While I was perusing Saveur's sight the other day, along with the Meyer Lemon Cake, I found a recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake (recipe here). I printed it and used my fresh zucchini's to make this cake.

I knew this was going to be an amazing cake even before my house smelled like a chocolate factory. The batter was smooth and glossy and the perfect texture. I was a little baffled by the recipe with the use of both butter and "corn" oil. But once I started adding the flour and buttermilk, I knew exactly why this cake had both "fats". I snuck a lick of the spoon and instantly I started thinking of what else I could do with this batter (i.e, cupcakes, mini baby cakes, etc). The recipe didn't call for it, but I added finely chopped, toasted pecans.

Can't wait to taste it.


Meyer Lemon Pound Cake & Chocolate Fondue

I get updates from Saveur Magazine via email and this past week they posted lots of muffins, cakes and other sweet treats. I went onto their site and stumbled upon a recipe for The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake (recipe here). I love Meyer lemons. I have a tree. Eli and I were observing our tree yesterday and noticed that we did not get as many lemons this year as we have in the past. He commented on how few branches we have. I agreed. I wonder if my Gardner thought it might be a good idea to cut back the branches when he cut back our rose bushes. Hope that isn't the case.

I made the cake in conjunction with Chocolate Fondue (16 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped + 2 cups heavy cream. Put in glass bowl over simmering water and melt to combine. Once combined put in your fondue pot with flame on LOW!).

I wanted to the cake to accompany pretzel sticks, strawberries, bananas, dried fruit and marshmallows. The cake was delicious with or without the chocolate. I cut it into small squares so it would be easy to dunk.

This cake lives up to its name. And the fondue wasn't bad either.

ps. I have left over ganache. Be on the look out for mini s'mores!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Boule-Fresh Hot Bread

There is nothing better than homemade bread right out of the oven. I made a batch of the Master recipe of Boule from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. My friend, Lisa, has been begging me for months to buy this book. I have resisted. Yet, after my last bread disaster I ran to the bookstore. I wasn't perfectly certain which book it was that she had been raving about. I bought the wrong book. The next day she and I ventured out to an afternoon movie and she surprised me and brought me her book to borrow. I am so thanking her right now.

It rained cats and dogs today and the kids didn't have school. We made dough and we baked bread. Delicious. Easy-Peasy. The bread, literally, just came out of the oven. Our house smells so good. We let it cool for about 10 minutes and then we slathered it with butter. So good.

Buy this book!
p.s directions are too long to post.


Chocolate Bread

I wanted to make more stuff from The Cake Bible. Issac was requesting a chocolate cake. I know what he really wanted, however talked myself into making her Chocolate Bread. This is really more like a dense, very dense, pound cake.

I wanted to spice it up a little and add dried cherries, but refrained as I knew my kids would "gag". Instead I added some bittersweet chocolate chips.

This was good, not great. I won't race to make it again. Regardless of what my opinion is of this "bread" it disappeared quickly.

Homemade crackers

These are my new obsession. Easy, delicious and real crowd pleaser. Problem is, you can't eat just one, They are more addicting than potato chips!

I originally saw some cheddar cheese crackers on Tastespotting. However referred to my trusty bible, The Tartine Cookbook for her recipe.



3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne
3/4 tsp. black pepper
2 1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup unsalted butter
(I omitted the walnuts)


In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, cayenne & black pepper. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the cheese and butter and eat on med speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low. Scrape sides of bowl with rubber spatula.

Transfer dough to parchement paper and shape into a 1" diameter log. Wrap well and freeze about 2 hours ( I doubled the recipe and have more for a later date).

Preheat oven to 400*. Line baking sheets with parchment.

Cut logs into 1/8" thick rounds. Place on baking sheets.

Bake 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.



All Purpose Caramel

I love this caramel recipe. It is from the Tartine Cookbook, one of my favorite bakeries in the country and everything in the book is pure perfection.

In the previous post, I made a cheesecake that suggested topping the cake off with caramel. Although the recipe had a caramel recipe attached, I opted to make one that is tried and true. This is a standard in our home and it is easier than it seems. It is perfect atop ice cream, drizzled over fresh or roasted fruit, yet best eaten right out of the jar with a big soup spoon!



2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
3/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
4 Tbsp. butter


1. Pour cream into a heavy saucepan. Split vanilla bean in half and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from he pod. Add beans to the cream. Place over med high heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and keep cream warm.

2. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water, salt & corn syrup. Bring to a boil over med heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook without stirring, until the mixture is amber colored, 5-8 minutes. Watch this or it will burn. Remove from heat.

3. The mixture will continue to cook off heat so work fast. Slowly add the cream to the sugar syrup. This will bubble so be careful. Let the mixture simmer down and then whisk until smooth. Add lemon juice. Let cook 10 minutes

4. Cut the butter into tablespoons and add to caramel, one at at time, whisking to constantly. Then whisk caramel periodically until cool.

The caramel will keep in an airtight container in fridge for one month


Cheesecake, Light & Fluffy

I was reading the Tartelette blog and she had this Cheesecake recipe (I have to find it) on one of her entries and it looked really yummy. I love reading her blog and if you are not familiar with it, I highly suggest you give it a read. The selling point for me wasn't so much the Cheesecake as it was the Caramel Sauce that she suggest serving on the side. I love caramel anything and the idea that this was topped off with this gooey delight sold me on the dessert.

We were having friends for dinner last Friday night and they are not a chocolate loving family. Originally, I wanted to do chocolate fondue, but then remembered that chocolate is not their drug of choice. However, I knew that cheesecake would be the perfect ending to a truly delicious meal (chicken with green olive and 30 cloves of garlic, lemon risotto, slow roasted tomatoes and a kale w/ricotta salata salad). I also had french vanilla ice cream with chocolate fudge sauce for the kidlets as I wasn't sure how they would react to a cheesecake.

The cheesecake was really light (whipping egg whites helps keep the density down) yet, the crust was not my favorite. It was a little dry and believe it or not, not sweet enough. I have made a lot of cheesecakes and I still have my favorite. The recipe from an old Martha Stewart living magazine is still our household favorite (recipe here).
The night was fun, the kids left us alone and the conversation was perfect.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sour Cream Coffee Cake and a meeting

I couldn't go to my meeting yesterday, empty handed. I was meeting with all woman and I knew they were going to curse me as I walked in the door with this coffee cake, but I really wasn't too concerned about that.

I have been reading some of my really old cook books for inspiration. One in particular is The Cake Bible by my favorite gal, Rose Levy Beranbaum. I really wanted to make her Chocolate pound cake, but opted for the sour cream coffee cake as it called for egg yolks, and yes, you guessed it, I had some in the fridge. This cake was easy enough to whip up after dinner the other night. As it cooled in the kitchen, my kids were staring at it, waiting to take a slice. You could imagine their disappointment when I told them it was for a meeting and they would have to wait until the next day for the "crumbs".

I didn't eat any as I was finishing up my cleanse and on to the detox portion of the journey. However, I did receive rave reviews (via email) that it was delicious. Miguel especially liked it. I have come to the conclusion that M really likes cake. He always compliments a cake or a coffee cake or a marble pound cake (his favorite) and rarely comments on a cookie. I have to keep that in mind!



streusel topping & filling
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbls. sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup unsifted cake flour
4 Tbls. butter softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla

4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
12 Tbls. butter

Streusel topping:
Pulse sugars, nuts, cinnamon in food processor until nuts are coarsely chopped. Reserve 3/4 cup to use for filling. Add flour, butter, & vanilla to remainder of batter and pulse briefly to form a coarse, crumbly mixture.


Line a 9" greased, spring form pan with parchment and then grease again and flour surface. Preheat oven to 350*

In a medium bowl, combine yolks, 1/4 of the sour cream & vanilla

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low for 30 minutes. Add butter and remainder of sour cream. Mix until dry ingredients are moist. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add egg mixture in 3 batches.

Reserve about 1/3 of batter and scrape remainder into prepared pan. Sprinkle with streusel filling. Drop reserved batter an spread evenly with spatula. Sprinkle with remaining streusel.

Bake 55-60 minutes until a wooden cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Honey Wheat Bread

I haven't been successful with breads. I made a dough yesterday for Pretzels. Threw the dough out. It was really tough. Made these honey wheat loaves today and again, my dough was tough. Regardless, I opted to follow through.

These could take someones eye out. The recipe is from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I am going to cut it up, roast it and make bread crumbs (recipe here). Don't bother making this. Yuck-o!

I am on my way to Borders to pick up a few bread books!


Glazed Lemon Cookies

Over the years, I have been collecting the hard bound volumes of Cook's Illustrated (see here). I have every volume from 1993 to the present. Every so often I peruse through them to create my menu plan for the week. I have made a list of several things I want to make this week, one in particular are the Glazed Lemon Cookies ( March/April 2005). I am going to double the recipe and freeze the pre-shaped dough for another time.

One of my quests for 2010 is to create, find and document all our favorite recipes, both savory and sweet. Although I LOVE trying new things, I want to create a group of recipes that represent our families food passions. This is something I want to pass on to my kids so they will be able to pass them on to their kids. One of my biggest regrets is not having my Grandma Rose's recipes. A few of my cousins took her recipes when she died and have catalogued them. However, most of her food was created with a little of this and a little of that and could probably not have been written down. Yet, having her onion, poppy seed cookie recipe would have made me really, really happy. I can still taste them. Not at all sweet, flaky and crunchy at the same time. Mmmm. I have tried to recreate, but have not been successful. My quest continues.

This recipe is definitely going into the book of favorites.
Next time I will under bake (12 minutes rather than 14)as I was hoping for a softer cookie. Baked at 14 minutes, these are light and crunchy. Not complaining, yet I had something else in mind when i choose the recipe. With that said, these are perfectly delicious!


Lemon Cookies
3/4cup granulated sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
2tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 3/4cup unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/4teaspoon table salt
1/4teaspoon baking powder
12tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2tablespoons lemon juice
1large egg yolk
1/2teaspoon vanilla extract
Lemon Glaze
1tablespoon cream cheese , softened
2tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2cups confectioners' sugar (6 ounces)


  1. 1. For the cookies: Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. 2. In food processor, process granulated sugar and lemon zest until sugar looks damp and zest is thoroughly incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add flour, salt, and baking powder; pulse to combine, about 10 one-second pulses. Scatter butter chunks over; pulse until mixture resembles fine cornmeal, about 15 one-second pulses. In measuring cup or small bowl, beat together lemon juice, egg yolk, and vanilla with fork to combine. With machine running, add juice/yolk mixture in slow, steady stream (process should take about 10 seconds); continue processing until dough begins to form ball, 10 to 15 seconds longer.

  3. 3. Turn dough and any dry bits onto counter; working quickly, gently knead together to ensure that no dry bits remain and dough is homogeneous. Following illustrations 1 to 3 below, shape dough into log about 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter, wrap dough in parchment, and twist parchment to seal. Chill dough until firm and cold, about 45 minutes in freezer or 2 hours in refrigerator.

  4. 4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough log from wrapping and, using sharp chef's knife, slice dough into rounds 3/8 inch thick; place on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake until centers of cookies just begin to color and edges are golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time. Cool cookies on baking sheet about 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature before glazing.

  5. 5. For the glaze: Whisk cream cheese and lemon juice in medium nonreactive bowl until no lumps remain. Add confectioners' sugar and whisk until smooth.

  6. 6. To glaze the cookies: When cookies have cooled, working one at a time, spoon scant teaspoon glaze onto each cookie and spread evenly with back of spoon. Let cookies stand on wire rack until glaze is set and dry, about 1 hour.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

The $250.00 Cookie Caper

Rumors have been swirling around for years about the $250.00 Neiman Marcus cookie recipe. I am sure you have all hear about it (see here). Over the years I have made several versions; recipes from the Internet, Cooks Illustrated featured one, but the one that I like most is Maida Heatter's from her Brand-New book of Great Cookies.

I like these because they are simple and authentic. I double the recipe and store pre-shaped cookies in the freezer. The perfect snack on those days when it feels like every child in the neighborhood is in our backyard.


2 c. unbleached flour
1 tps. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. oatmeal
4 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
6 oz. chopped walnuts (I use pecans)


1. pre heat oven to 375*. Line baking sheets w/parchment.
2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt. Set aside
3. Chop milk chocolate in food processor. Add oats and mix together until almost powder.
4. Mix butter until creamy. Add sugars & vanilla, mix evenly. Add eggs, one at a time. Add sifted ingredients and the oatmeal mixture, beat on low speed until combined. Mix in chocolate and nuts.
(I refrigerate my dough over night to let it rest).
5. Use a 1 tablespoon ice cream scooper and form dough into balls.
6. Bake two sheets at at time for 14 minutes, rotating and reversing trays half way through.
7. Let cool on wire racks.
8. Enjoy


Monday, January 4, 2010

Truffle, Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

I made these a few weeks ago (recipe here) and they were DELICIOUS! I wanted to make them little bite size for New Years Eve. They were just as good. Next time I will double the cheesecake topping.

Make these in little silicone molds. They pop out super easy.

Cheers to a New Year!

Blueberry Scones

I should have known these were going to be a disaster before I started them. I am currently on day three of a 10 day fast and my mind just isn't working right. First off, I put 2 x the amount of buttermilk in the batter. So I doubled the other ingredients to catch up the buttermilk. However on the second addition of the ingredients, I omitted a 1/2 cup of flour.

When I was kneading the dough, it felt really, really wet. I was cursing the dough as I was trying to shape the scones and I all I kept thinking was"why didn't I make my favorite Nancy Silverton recipe?" I proceed against my better judgement. After the first 11 minutes of baking, I opened the oven to rotate the pans. They looked more like pancakes rather than scones. They were flat.

As I contemplated the recipe and what I could possibly have done wrong, I realized my error. I didn't add enough flour. Regardless, they smelled good. The kids ate them for breakfast and loved them.
The rest went to work with Miguel. His employees didn't complain. They were gone before one could say "scone".

Only I (and now you) know about the mistake. I think my lack of food is driving me to the kitchen to create sweets and savories that I can't eat. I guess the lesson here is, leave the cooking to those who are eating. I am staying out of the kitchen for the next 7 days!

p.s the recipe is from MS Living magazine ( recipe here), one of the many recipes in my "recipes to try" binder.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Hazelnut, Milk Chocolate Gelato

So fattening, but so good.

Again, I had some lonely egg yolks staring me in the face everytime I opened my fridge. In our house, when we have egg yolks, we make ice cream!!

Eli and I thumbed through The Perfect Scoop and liked the Gianduja Gelato (page 47). I particularily liked it because I had 5 egg yolks and that is exactly what the recipe called for. I also had hazelnuts in my freezer. This was the perfect choice from The Perfect Scoop!

I didn't taste it (prepping for a 10 day fast), but both Eli and Miguel did. Eli said it was really "rich" and although M liked it, he has requested bread. So, for the next week or so, I am going to concentrate on breads (after I do a Whole Foods run to gather up all the different flours I will be needing).

Be on the look out for breads, all shapes and sizes!

If you don't have this book, get it. It is a great family activity!