KIDS BAKE EASTER: A Very Berry Ricotta Coffeecake

KIDS BAKE recipes–easy for kids to make with help but great for adults without extensive baking experience.

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I’m not a big cake baker and certainly not much of a cake eater, but lately I find myself working on cakes. There are probably a few reasons but one is the number of impressive cakes posted on Dorie Greenspan’s engaging and active facebook group, BAKE AND TELL. Some of these folks bake their kids’ favorite chocolate birthday cake (more my speed) and others create pastry visions (think marzipan) unseen at many professional bakeries. Yikes. But it’s all fun and there’s lots of learning and togetherness– the internet at its best. Another thing going through my mind has been finding a cake my good friend Tony can eat and still stay on his healthy regime, which means no white flour, no dairy, and not much sugar. (I’m nearly there on that one; a pan of cake with his name on it is in the freezer for the next time we play Pinochle. We’ll see what he thinks.) This last Sunday, I woke early to drink coffee and exercise (I know–me?!) and saw a few cartons of sorta sad-lookin’ berries (Poor babies.) in the fridge when I got the milk. There was also a container of ricotta — couldn’t even remember what I’d needed that for, but it passed the sniff test. What could I make with berries and ricotta? Well, folks, that’s what Google’s for, isn’t it? Up came Ina Garten’s “Blueberry Ricotta Breakfast Cake.” Luckily I have the book it’s in (Go-To Dinners) and read it through twice thinking about how Alyce would make and bake this cake. And here’s what happened; I changed it as I went along…

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Blackberry Jam or No, My Phone is Still Working


The problem with making jam at home is that it’s no problem.
A regular batch of freezer jam doesn’t even take 45 minutes
                                                                                  and that includes washing/drying containers.

You can have it on toast.
You can put it on waffles.
Try a teaspoonful in your plain yogurt.  (Just buy plain yogurt and do this or add a tad of honey.)

You can give it away.  Oh, the friends you’ll have.
Even if you do, you’ll have enough jam to last quite a while.

Here’s my jam cooling out on the deck.
I couldn’t do that today because the wind is blowing 70 mph. 

So here’s what I did… I followed the directions on the pectin packet.  Just for grins, I’ll recount the experience.

Freezer Blackberry Jam ala SureJell Package and Alyce
makes about 7 cups of jam

Wash and dry about 10 c worth of containers.  (1 and/or 2 cup–your choice)   While you’re only making 7 cups of jam, you’ll need space at the top of each container for expansion.  Set aside on a big baking sheet or on counter where they can stay for a day or so.

Wash and pat dry about 3 pints fresh blackberries.

Mash them with a potato masher or put them in the food processor.  Leave some partial fruit; don’t completely puree.   Measure to make sure you have exactly 3 cups of mashed berries.  Eat any left.

Measure into a large bowl exactly 5 1/4 c white sugar.  Mix 3 cups measured mashed blackberries into it.  Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meantime, measure 3/4 c water into a small saucepan and add package of pectin (Surejell).   Stir well; it will be lumpy.   Bring to a boil over high heat and let boil 1 min.  (30 seconds extra at altitude.)  Pour into blackberry-sugar mixture and stir for 3-5 minutes continuously until the sugar is completely melted.  Taste to make sure no grit remains behind.

   Ladle or spoon into prepared clean plastic containers (1 or 2 cup) and leave 1/2 ” at top for expansion.
Cover with well-fitted lids.
 Let sit 24 hours without disturbing to set.  Freeze for up to a year or  store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.  I don’t think it’ll last that long. 
Bon confiture!
Two-dog Kitchen…  Yes, they do more than sleep.  They eat and they go outside.  haha

Blackberry Cobbler or It’s Spring Somewhere….

I’ve always dreamed of living in a place where I could pick blackberries.
Off I’d head, early morning, basket in hand.
Maybe some gloves. 
These things can be scratchy, to say the least.
I might take one of the dogs.
Sometimes I read the blogs of women who live in such places.
They have so many blackberries that they blog about jam.
But I live up on the mesa.
Near the mountains.
And there aren’t any blackberries growing wild.
In fact, there’s nothing growing.
Unless someone planted it in a yard. 
And then:
They have to pay the water bill.
Silly, huh?
Wanna eat locally here?
You better enjoy cactus, of which I have plenty.
(I do have a sour cherry tree and rhubarb….)
I once had a $37. tomato I grew on the deck.
I pay hundreds a year for a couple of patches of grass.
(So my dogs don’t have to pee on rocks.)
All that leads you to know that  if I made blackberry anything,
my blackberries came from King Soopers.
On sale.
10 half-pints for $10.
No, but it’s as good as it’s going to get.
And were we glad to get cobbler made from store-bought blackberries?
Alyce’s Blackberry Cobbler made from Store-bought Blackberries
7 c washed blackberries
1/2 c white sugar
1/3 c all-purpose flour
1 cup flour
1T white sugar, plus 1t for dusting crust right before baking
1/4 t salt
2t baking powder
4T butter, chilled
6-7T milk
1T melted butter
In 2qt casserole or a deep-dish pie pan, mix the berries, sugar and flour.  Set aside.
In a food processor, or using a pastry blender or two knives, mix the dry ingredients for the biscuit topping and cut in the butter until it’s all crumbs.  Shouldn’t be even, but will have tiny irregular bits and pieces.  Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, either processing briefly or stirring constantly with a fork.  When dough holds together, pull it together into a ball and knead it a few times until it looks and feels smooth.  Pat or roll it out into the shape of your pan and lift it onto the top of the berries, tucking it in to bed around the edges. Brush the crust with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with a little sugar on top (no more than a teaspoon full).  Bake about 35 minutes, checking in 10 minutes before that.  If it’s golden brown and bubbly, get it out of there and put it on a rack to cool.  Do let it cool quite a bit or you’ll have berry juice and crust for dessert.   Makes a lovely dessert, but a better breakfast.  Add some ice cream or gelato if you’re eating dessert.   A bit of milk on top of it in a bowl rounds out the dish for breakfast.
Two-dog Kitchen presents:
Whose bone is that?
A little neighborhood news: 
I have a flicker (and, no, this isn’t a place to put pictures) on my chimney.
He thinks it’s wood, but the part he’s on is metal.
A hollow, chimey jack-hammer.
Out front, the primroses, which look nothing like roses, are blooming inky, dark purple.
Nearby, a rabbit (he lives here) sits up just like a picture and looks at…?
Our house dove is at the edge of the roof cooing at her mate, who maybe skipped town.
Three young lady deer spent a lot of time peering in my window today, scared of Gabby.
The robins, down to a pair, are in and out, all around.
I’ve yet to figure out where they’re nesting.
My neighbors’ houses have forsythia in bloom.  Including Sarah M’s if she’s reading.
Why is yellow so hopeful?
In memoriam:  my pool-shooting buddy, Janet Egbert, who died yesterday suddenly…at the beautiful age of 52

Sing a new song; craft a new cobbler; love your friends while you have them,