Tag Archives: baking

blueberry pie

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? I certainly have…. but what I have right now is a little different from that.

It just happens that the day that I actually bake something for you to post on the blog is also the day when I write an amazingly witty blog post to complement my delightful recipe…. in my head. I am in my kitchen, happily listening to the Florence + the Machine Pandora station, covered in flour, dishes flowing out of my sink, and composing the most amazing blog post in my mind.

And then by the end of the day, and certainly by the time I actually sit down to write, I forget it all.

I know I must sound crazy. That’s probably because it’s true.

The good thing is, even though my writing isn’t great, this pie is. I was very, very nervous about it given that for some irrational reason pie dough scares me. I am always afraid it won’t turn out. I am like the mother of a newborn in the way I fuss over it – but this time I tried to let all of my fears go and just follow the instructions in Dorie’s wonderful recipe. If there is anything I’ve learned yet as a baker, it’s to just trust Dorie.

Who is Dorie? Well, it is not who you might be thinking. Her name is Dorie Greenspan and she is a James Beard award-winning cookbook author and baking guru. She wrote Baking: From My Home to Yours, which is also where I got the blueberry muffin recipe in my last post, and like I said before, her recipes never, ever fail me. You really should buy a copy if you want to learn to bake or love to bake. It’s an essential in any cookbook collection.

Trust me when I tell you that you absolutely can make a beautiful, homemade pie from scratch that blows Sara-you-know-who’s out of the water. And, just so you know – I am not a pie crust person. I really could care less about it. In fact, most of the time I just eat the filling out of pies, leaving the crust behind, and then I hand it over to my husband. Who is a (weird) lover of pie crust. Not this time. This crust is the perfect balance of flakiness and buttery goodness.

I think this may be one of my most favorite things I have ever baked. It is just that good, people. And so summery. Did I also mention – blueberries are in season… and fresh ones are essential to making this pie as delicious as it can possibly be?

Because this recipe is somewhat long and Dorie does a wonderful job of explaining each step very thoroughly, instead of copying the recipe here I will just provide a link for you to read the recipe elsewhere. Please do not let the length intimidate you. It really is not difficult and the steps can be divided up. Make the crust the day before and then the next day make the filling, assemble, and bake the pie. The recipe can be found here.

Have I convinced you to make this yet? I hope so. Because you need this in your life. Live dangerously – go get in your kitchen and make a pie!

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how to use 5lbs of blueberries: lime scented blueberry muffins

If you follow me on my Facebook page, you might have seen that last Friday I made a trip to a local berry farm. I met some girlfriends and we spent the morning chatting and picking blueberries. Before I knew it, I had filled up my bucket and came home with 5 pounds of berries! The next challenge has been figuring out what to do with them all (other than the obvious choice of freezing them and putting them into smoothies).Over the next few blog posts, I will chronicle how I am putting my fresh blueberries to use.

One of the first things I did was consult my small collection of baking cookbooks. Time and time again, one of my favorite ones has been Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Dorie’s recipes are always successful in my kitchen; she never lets me down. While flipping through, I found a lovely Orange Berry Muffin recipe. However, due to the lack of oranges in my kitchen, I thought it would be fun to substitute for the citrus I did have on hand – limes. I haven’t often seen that combination as orange-blueberry and lemon-blueberry seem to be much more popular. I decided to try it out.

The muffins (and Dorie) didn’t disappoint! Made with buttermilk, they come out very moist. I took Dorie’s suggestion (as any good baker would do) and sprinkled the tops with sugar, which gave them a little sparkle. I also dotted the tops with a few extra blueberries just to make them look a little prettier. The lime, although subtle, adds an unexpected touch with its floral citrus-y flavor. The bright bursts of blueberry make these a very delicious breakfast treat or snack.

ImageLime Scented Blueberry Muffins

  • Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen, not thawed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Pour lime juice into glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lime zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry mixture and a whisk or spatula, gently stirring until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries. Using a ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Recipe says it yields 12, but I got 15.

Recipe Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

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reconciling baking with a healthy lifestyle

You may or may not have noticed, but things have been a little quiet around here at Sarah June Bakes. Part of the reason for that is overall life busy-ness; it’s been a little crazy around here. Another reason is I’ve been doing a little soul searching lately in regards to food and wasn’t sure what it might mean for the blog, so I’ve been hesitant to post.

Healthy eating is something that’s been on my mind for quite some time. It’s something that I’ve always struggled with because I love food so, so much. However, after watching the documentary Food, Inc. a couple of years ago, my eyes were opened to all kinds of new information, and ever since then, I’ve been processing that and slowly changing the way I eat.

Most recently, I have had some health issues pop up that have made me delve into this topic a little more. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve been researching all kinds of diets and gathering lots of information. The conclusion / philosophy I’ve finally landed on is the one on Lisa Leake’s popular blog – 100 Days of Real Food. I find this approach refreshing, achievable, and it makes a lot of sense to me.

I had a hard time, however, reconciling this with my love of baking. After all, white flour and white sugar are pretty much the building blocks of traditional baking. This is what has held me back from fully committing to a “real food” (unprocessed diet) for so long. I didn’t want to give up the hobby that had become a true passion of mine. It just didn’t make since to me. I believe that it’s a God-given thing and it didn’t seem right to just quit.

So, I’ve decided to keep on doing what I love. Life is all about balance. The conclusion that I arrived at is that it is okay to treat yourself every once in a while as long as you’re doing it in moderation. I still believe in the power of a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie – white flour, white sugar, and all.

Also, after reading this article and learning all of the downright scary ingredients that are in store-bought cakes, I believe it is ever more important that people learn to bake from scratch. Yes, you may be using refined ingredients like sugar and flour; but it is far, far better to make a dessert as an occasional treat at home than to purchase one from a supermarket. Even places like Fresh Market, Earth Fare, or Whole Foods, in a lot of cases. The same goes for boxed cake mixes and canned frostings.

So, I will continue to feature classic baking recipes on my blog, but also hope to feature others that also cater to a more healthy lifestyle and that are more for every day. I may also write some posts about my experience with trying to switch over to a diet completely free of unprocessed foods (which is harder than it sounds!) if you, my readers, are interested in that. I hope to make baking from scratch easier for you so that you will feel empowered to bake at home.

Thank you for your patience and be ready for some delicious things coming up soon! Please let me know your thoughts on this topic – whether you agree or disagree, or what your own story is. As always, I love hearing from you.

Love,

Sarah

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rice krispie treats: two ways

Some of my fondest childhood memories were getting to stay over at my Memaw and Pepaw’s house (that’s Southern for Grandma and Grandpa). Whenever I stayed the night there, my Memaw would cook me one of my favorite childhood dinners. It was Tyson chicken nuggets with plenty of ketchup, crinkle cut french fries, baked beans, and a dinner roll spread with Parkay margarine. If I close my eyes, I still remember it exactly how it looked on her blue floral scalloped plates, and exactly how it tasted.  While that meal isn’t the epitome of culinary greatness or gourmet by any means, it was made with so much love – and that’s what I remember most.

On the other hand, my Memaw is a fantastic cook – I adore her cornbread dressing, potato salad, and especially her macaroni and cheese. She has shared many of her recipes (the few that were written down anyway) with me and I am looking forward to sharing them with you on the blog!

Rice krispie treats are an iconic childhood food, and one I remember making quite a few times myself as a kid. I am hoping these fun treats will bring back some fond food memories for you! Even if you never ate rice krispie treats as a kid, you can be any age to appreciate them – they are delicious and completely addictive.

The iconic recipe is made a little more exciting by the addition of Oreos in one variation and cake batter in the other. I made them both for a football party and sliced them really big. They were devoured pretty quickly!

I guess we are all kids at heart. Please share some of your favorite childhood food memories in the comments. I’d love to read about them!

Cookies & Cream Rice Krispie Treats

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 10 Oreos, chopped

Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large pot over low heat, melt the butter. Add the marshmallows, and stir until melted. Stir in the cereal and Oreos, and then press into the prepared pan and let cool.

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup yellow cake mix
  • 1 1.75 oz container of sprinkles

Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large pot over low heat, melt the butter. Add the marshmallows, and stir until melted. Stir in the cake mix and sprinkles, and then press into the prepared pan, and let cool.

Recipe Tips:

  • When pressing the treats into the pan, do it gently. Don’t pack it down or it’ll make for dry treats!
  • If you want your treats thicker, use a smaller pan.
  • A knife sprayed with nonstick spray makes for clean cuts.
  • When mixing in the sprinkles, be gentle or the colors of the sprinkles will run. But if you’re not as type A about baking as I am, it is probably no big deal.

Recipe Source: Both recipes are from one of my very favorite food blogs, How Sweet It Is. How Sweet It Is got the Oreo Rice Krispie recipe from Picky Palate, and the Cake Batter treats are an original creation from How Sweet It is.

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candied bacon biscuits with sea salt butter

After a title like that, I almost don’t need to say anything else. It kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Candied. Bacon. Biscuits. with. Sea. Salt. Butter.

Yum!

I had the idea for these biscuits a while back and knew I wanted to include them on this blog. Even though I had a long list of ideas for posts, I couldn’t get this idea out of my head. I thought I should save it for down the road, maybe when my blog gained some readers or when I’d had a little more experience with my writing and food photography.

Then I thought, why not? Why not begin with a recipe that’s so completely over the top and so incredibly delicious. I couldn’t think of anything more perfect. Have a friend who’s feeling a little under the weather or having a bad week? Bake them up some Candied Bacon Biscuits with Sea Salt Butter and I guarantee you’ll have a friend for life.

Fluffy, buttery, Southern-style biscuits studded with jewels of sticky-sweet candied bacon with a kick of cayenne at the end. Top that with crunchy, salty sea salt butter. These are extremely easy to make and so incredibly delicious and decadent. Maybe a little dangerous, because once you try them, odds are you will probably want to make them again and again.

Welcome to my blog and my kitchen! I can’t wait to share my favorite recipes and talk about food and life with you. Please feel free to leave a comment below – I would love to hear from you! Here’s to many more posts here on Sarah June Bakes!

Candied Bacon Biscuits with Sea Salt Butter

Makes 8 large biscuits

For the Brown Sugar-Cayenne Candied Bacon:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
  • 8 oz bacon (I used Applegate Farms Uncured Sunday Bacon)

First, line a jelly roll pan or other rimmed backing sheet with foil. Next, in a large shallow dish (such as a pie plate), combine the brown sugar and cayenne. Press the bacon into the brown sugar mixture and then place it sugar side up on the foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over the bacon. Place the bacon into a cold oven and then turn on to 400 degrees. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until bacon is crisp (but not burnt) and the sugar is bubbly. Let cool completely, and then chop into small pieces with a knife.

For the Biscuits:

  • 2 cups White Lily brand Unbleached Self Rising Flour
  • 6 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tbsp cold shortening
  • 3/4 – 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Measure flour into a large mixing bowl, and whisk to fluff it a bit. Add your cold butter and shortening, and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender, until pea-sized pieces form. Make a well in the flour mixture, and add your buttermilk. I usually add 3/4 cup at first, and add more if I need it. Mix the dough lightly with a fork. The dough will be sticky. If it is too dry, add a little more buttermilk. When it looks like it is just about to come together, dump in the candied bacon pieces and mix in.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead 5-6 times. Pat it out into a circle 1″ in thickness. Using a large circular biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits. Press the cutter straight down into the biscuits and do not twist. Place onto a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet, side by side. Brush with the melted butter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. While they’re baking, make the sea salt butter.

For the Sea Salt Butter:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large pinches sea salt

Combine softened butter with sea salt. Spread over warm biscuits.

Recipe Tips:

  • Feel free to add more cayenne if you like things a little more spicy. The current amount just leaves you with a tiny bit of a kick at the end.
  • If you do not have buttermilk on hand, make your own! This is what I always do. Just put 1 tbsp of white vinegar in the bottom of your liquid measuring cup, and top it off with milk (any type will do, but whole is best if you have it) to make one cup. Let it sit for 5 minutes, and you will have buttermilk!
  • The trick to good biscuits is cold butter and shortening, and not to handle them too much. Don’t be stressed and fuss over them. They are meant to be rustic and not perfect.
  • Try to get a sea salt that has larger flakes. You could just top these biscuits with salted butter, but the fun of this sea salt butter is you can control how salty you want it to be, and also the bit of crunch you get with the sea salt is fantastic.

Recipe Sources:

The base biscuit recipe is loosely adapted from this recipe at Sprinkle Bakes.  It makes an excellent base recipe on its own. It has become my go-to biscuit recipe.

The candied bacon recipe was adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe here.

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