Tag Archives: baking

sea salt shortbread cookies with lemon curd | paired with Kracher Auslese 2011

I had every intention of sharing these cookies, along with the lemon curd, even the dessert wine, with my coworkers. I set aside 40 of them to take to work this past Saturday. Between me and Steve, we not only consumed the 15 allocated to the two of us, but we also polished off the portion reserved for the kind and hard-working chefs, servers, and managers at the restaurant. Hmmm. Yeah, sorry. Not sorry!

I just couldn’t stop eating them. I am trying not to think about the fact that, between the two of us, we ingested two sticks of butter over the course of fewer than three days. Somehow, that fact is easier to disregard, when the butter is divided among almost 60 small, heart-shaped, dainty cookies!

There is a lot to cover in this post: a recap on this modification of Emilie’s shortbread recipe over at the Clever Carrot, a how-to on Meyer lemon curd, and a review of the dessert wine that paired magically with these sweet and sour components. I’ll keep my personal update short for sake of space, but I will let you know that, in addition to eating all of these cookies, I am really winning so far this week: I overslept that 5-mile race I had signed up for. I seriously blame these cookies. Somehow, they were the culprit.

I can honestly say that I blame cookies for a lot of things. But that’s an entirely different post.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora


“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.”

– Victor Kiam


I had actually made a few jars of lemon curd before reading a recent post by Emilie over at the Clever Carrot. Emilie is a chef, who believes in the concept of “healthy comfort food.” She makes amazing sourdough bread, posts useful tips, writes heartfelt posts, and creates recipes far beyond sweets. And she has a kick-ass Instagram feed. Recently, she and her boys made the cutest batch of shortbread cookies. She made a modification of shortbread that included egg yolks, since traditional shortbread recipes call for simply one part butter, two parts sugar, and three parts flour. Just looking at her post, though, made me want to roll out of bed and bake several pans of these cookies. There is nothing like the combination of lemon curd and shortbread.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

I only slightly modified Emilie’s original recipe and added some of my citrus salt I recently made, along with a little vanilla extract, a sprinkling of sea salt, and a slight tweak of flours. My baking session, however, was a little less eventful from hers. Simply skimming the first 100 or so words of her post will clue you in on her baking adventure. If only my two cats were that exciting.

Another component that really set these shortbread cookies apart was the addition of a little sea salt, sprinkled on top of the cookies before baking them. I used some Canadian sea salt, a gift from my dear friend, Kristy. I didn’t even know that Canada specialized in sea salt. The company, Vancouver Island Salt Co., was started by a chef, and their Fleur de Sel is Canada’s first sea salt.


sea salt shortbread cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted almond flour
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons citrus salt {you may substitute regular salt}
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift the flours into a large bowl and add the cubed butter. Using your fingers, break apart the cubes of butter and incorporate the butter into the flour. See the photo above for an example of what kind of texture you’re looking for. You want pea-sized pieces of the mixture. And you can always use a pastry cutter, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, but getting your hands dirty is half the fun!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks well and add the sugar and citrus salt. Stir until incorporated.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and, using your fingers again, mix until the dough forms a ball, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Flatten the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Over a piece of parchment paper, roll a portion of the dough to about a 1/4″ thick. Like Emilie, I also sandwich my dough in between two pieces of parchment paper. This makes removing the cookies SO much easier. The dough won’t stick to your rolling-pin. I don’t attempt this any other way, and this method works when rolling pie dough, too.
  7. Cut out cookies with the cookie cutter of your choice. I love these little hearts! They also make a lovely pie crust.
  8. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, sprinkle the cookies with coarse sea salt, and bake for 12-15 minutes, just until slightly golden.
  9. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool the cookies on it for 5 minutes. Remove the cookies with a spatula and transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
  10. Let the cookies cool completely and serve alongside a glass of Kracher Auslese and smother them with lemon curd. Better yet, make lemon curd shortbread sandwiches and chill them in the refrigerator, until you’re ready to enjoy them!
  • This recipe yields about 55 smallish cookies, depending upon the size of your cutter.
  • Make sure that you thoroughly chill your dough before cutting the cookies. You can always chill the dough down in the fridge in between batches.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

Curd, curd, curd. Curd’s the word! Okay, I am officially delirious right about now. I think I’m still recovering from the birthday celebrations over the weekend. But, seriously, I did grow up thinking that 50s and 60s rock was the current music of my time, since I only listened to my dad’s “oldies radio” station. I didn’t discover Michael Jackson until I was nearly 13! Thanks, Dad. So, about that lemon curd! And back to being slightly serious. Of course, you can purchase some delicious lemon curd from the store, but making lemon curd is super easy and requires just a short amount of time. And, honestly, sprinkling the shortbread cookie with a little sea salt was a perfect match with the sweet-tart lemon curd.

I actually hadn’t actually tasted lemon curd before experimenting with making it this year during my citrus obsession {shocker!}. I’d even loosely used “lemon curd” as a term for describing certain wines’ characteristics. I assumed it had a creamy, rich texture and a citrus-y, tart kick. I was definitely right about that. Kind of like the California Chardonnay I’m sipping on this very moment. A basic fruit curd recipe calls for egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice, and zest. The result is a super rich, custard-like spread that pairs well with anything from scones to waffles to fresh fruit.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora


meyer lemon curd


  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1 regular lemon
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  1. Sterilize the jars you will be using for the lemon curd. I used random Mason jars and jars from store-bought relish and jellies. Since you won’t be processing these jars, you can use whichever containers you’d like, as long as you sterilize them properly. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place the jars carefully inside. Boil the jars for at least 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars inside the pot, until you need them in a few minutes.
  2. Wash and scrub the skins of the lemons well.
  3. Grate the zest from the 3 lemons into a stainless steel bowl. I used a Microplane. Be careful to avoid zesting any of the bitter, white pith. If you don’t have a fine zester, like a Microplane, you can take Ina Garten’s advice and simply peel the skins with a vegetable peeler and pulse it, along with the cane sugar, in a food processor.
  4. Juice all 3 lemons into the same stainless steel bowl.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and set the bowl over the simmering water. This is kind of like a double boiler situation.
  6. Add the sugar, salt, and butter and stir until the butter melts.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Strain the egg mixture through a chinois or sieve into the butter mixture.
  9. Here’s where some elbow grease comes into play. For the next 6 to 8 minutes, whisk the mixture constantly until smooth and thickened to a custard-like texture. Don’t slack!
  10. Pour the lemon curd into the sterilized jars and let the curd cool.
  11. Cover with the lids and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
  • This recipe yielded me about 12 ounces. I divided the lemon curd into three 4-ounce jars.
  • Make sure that you use a clean spoon or knife each time you serve the lemon curd. This will keep the curd fresh and lengthen its shelf-life in the refrigerator.
  • If you can’t find seasonally available Meyer lemons, feel free to substitute with regular lemons.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

As you well know, I sing the praises of serving dessert wine after a meal either alone or alongside a sweet treat {case in point, here, here, and here}. I chose an acidic, sweet dessert wine to accompany this shortbread and lemon curd duo. The producer of this sweet, late-harvest wine is Kracher, and they have consistently set the standard for quality, sweet wines from Austria. When I tasted the wine with the shortbread and lemon curd, I knew I had to share this experience with the staff at work. I really did have the best of intentions. I’d like to say that I dropped them on the floor or something, but in all sincerity, Steve and I ate. them. all.

I can say, however, that I’ve managed to remember to run almost every day this week!


Kracher, Auslese Cuvée, Burgenland, Austria, 2011


  • Off the vine – 60% Chardonnay, 40% Welschriesling
  • On the eyes  –  very pale yellow
  • On the nose  –  fresh aromas of ripe peaches and apricots, tropical white fruits, with a pronounced citrus blossom note.
  • On the palate  –  medium in body, not too thick on the palate, with lots of honeydew, tangerine, citrus blossom, and lychee notes, with a touch of wildflower honey. This wine has a lingering citrus-y finish and a bright acidity. This dessert wine is sweet but not cloyingly so.
  • On the table  –  perfectly paired with the creamy, rich lemon curd! This Auslese would also complement a slightly spicy Asian dish, fruit-driven desserts, and fresh goat cheese. I’d drizzle the goat cheese with a little honey and serve it along with some toasted pecans.
  • On the shelf  –  around $23 {375 mL}.
  • On the ears  –  I splurged and got five new albums from the record store on my birthday this past week. One of my favorite purchases was the latest from Digitalism. I was smitten by their 2007 album, Idealism, and I couldn’t believe I’d missed their latest effort {2011, so new-to-me}, I Love You, Dude. If you haven’t heard of this German duo, give this track a listen, and it will give you a feel for their sound.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & floraIf you’ve been digging dessert wine lately and want to research more about it, here are a few links that will lend you a little more information:

If you make these cookies or attempt a batch of lemon curd, let me know how it all turns out! And if you score a bottle of this moderately priced, delicious dessert wine, let me know what you think. Here’s to a week filled with commitment to goals, not as many cookies, and a lot more green smoothies. At least that’s what I’ll be striving for!

Cheers!

Jayme

IMG_2137

bundt cake with thyme sprig

meyer lemon + thyme olive oil cakes | paired with anselmi’s “i capitelli” dessert wine

I recently read a very inspiring post on Darling magazine’s website about celebrating our small and large moments of victory, fanning the flames of our goals, and daring to actually live out those crazy dreams we have for our lives. I know I’ve been pretty wordy about goal-setting and intentions on my last few posts, but I have no apologies. We all need a little motivation; I’m seriously preaching to myself.

Lately, I’ve had a few setbacks with the goals I’ve written for myself. I dealt with a case of bronchitis, and I had to stop running for a few weeks. My work schedule has been a little unpredictable, and my finances have taken a toll. I have over-committed and have had some difficulty finding a sense of balance, in turn, hurting a couple of friends and family members as a result.

I can only pick up where I left off with those situations and do my best from this point on. I’ve slowly built my running mileage up to four miles a run, and I’ve tightened up my budget. As far as the fragile relationships go, I’m making room for quality time and making sure I am giving my full attention to the person I’m spending time with.


We have to reach for our goals but, more than that, we have to hold on and live them, until they’re the only truths we believe in.”

Megan Magers


Sometimes, it is tough holding onto our goals. When we are met with setbacks. When we’re the only ones who see any progress. When we supposedly “fail.” When no validation comes our way. It’s at those points where it is so important to stay strong and remind ourselves WHY we made our choices and commitments in the first place.

So, I’ve gotten back on my feet and am trying to make something beautiful from my mistakes. This brings me to my recent marmalade mishap: I botched a batch and couldn’t get the marmalade to set. I wanted to toss out the six jars I canned. I was livid with the results.

At first.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

I could’ve thrown that batch away, and I would’ve missed out on the opportunity to expand my creativity. I’ve used that runny, but oh-so-vibrantly-tasty batch of marmalade in more ways than I would have, had it been “perfect.”  It has found its way into a ginger-soy stir-fry sauce, as a dipping sauce for gyoza, over toast, in a gin cocktail, over granola, and drizzled over these Meyer lemon bundt cakes {recipe loosely adapted from this recipe on Food Network}. I think the bundt cake glaze is my most favorite incorporation of the sweet, citrus-y jam.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora


meyer lemon + thyme olive oil cakes


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, in solid form
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring bundt pans
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • zest from 3 lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt or skyr
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh thyme
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease the lining of the bundt pans with the coconut oil and lightly dust with flour.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the sugar and lemon zest until integrated.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, again, pulsing until integrated.
  5. Add the olive oil and yogurt and pulse for about 30 seconds, until all of the ingredients are blended.
  6. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and fresh thyme.
  7. Pour the flour mixture, in three separate passes, into the olive oil mixture, pulsing just until combined.
  8. Pour the final mixture into the greased and floured bundt pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack. If the cakes don’t want to release easily, use a knife to separate the cake from the edges of the pan.
  • I tested this recipe using a 6-piece mini-bundt pan. If you choose to use a 12-piece mini-bundt pan, decrease the baking time, checking on the cakes after 22 or so minutes.
  • Remember to grease the middle part of the bundt pan molds! I forgot to do this, and each cake didn’t want to release easily, since that middle portion was stuck.

marmalade glaze


  • 3 tablespoons marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. In a saucepan, combine the marmalade, coconut oil, and lemon juice over medium heat.
  2. As soon as the mixture reaches a slow, bubbly boil, quickly reduce to a low simmer.
  3. Whisk in powdered sugar.
  4. Reduce for about five minutes or to desired thickness.
  5. Remove from heat and let stand for 20-30 minutes to thicken further, as it cools.
  6. Drizzle over lemon olive oil cakes.
  • If you don’t have any marmalade, you may substitute 3 tablespoons orange juice and simply mix all ingredients together without heating on the stove.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

And now, let’s take this dessert to another level.

How so? Dessert wine. After a meal, I am always excited to pair a dessert wine with my sweet baked goods or even some cheese. The citrus notes in this particular recipe pair perfectly with Sauternes, a dessert wine from the Bordeaux region of France, made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. I didn’t have a Sauternes on hand, but I did have a Sauternes-like dessert wine from Italy, Anselmi’s “I Capitelli”, Passito Blanco.

I hadn’t tried it before, and I was completely blown away. This nectar-like, sweet wine is complex and balanced with vibrant acidity and provided ample notes of honey, dried apricot, brûléed peaches. I would also enjoy this dessert wine simply by itself, alongside fresh fruit, or with a salted caramel crème brûlée.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora


Anselmi “I Capitelli” Passito Blanco, Italy, 2011


  • Off the vine – 100% Garganega {the primary grape used to produce Soave}
  • On the eyes  –  golden honey-hued.
  • On the nose  –  rich, concentrated aromas of white peach, sweet apricot, honey, and caramel.
  • On the palate  –  full-bodied and viscous with notes of honey, maple, and ripe peaches.
  • On the table  –  excellent alongside fresh fruit, lemon cake, light pastries, and even with steamed lobster. It can definitely stand up and complement a funky bleu cheese.
  • On the shelf  –  around $40 {375 mL}.
  • On the ears  –  I think I’ve listened to Royksopp‘s latest, and supposedly final, album, The Inevitable End {November 2014}, at least once a day for the last three weeks. Right now, my favorite track is “Skulls.” I may have danced around the kitchen with this one blasting. I’m comfortably listening to this album right now on headphones, so there won’t be any neighborly casualties. 😉 The video to this track is definitely worth checking out, especially if you have major beard crushes, like I do.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & floraI also want to add that it is so important to celebrate our accomplishments, the large breakthroughs and the little victories, and not just focus on the hiccups, roadblocks, or setbacks. Even though each of our victories leads us closer to our goals, we have to remember that life happens along the way, in the mix. We have to take time to revel in those small, happy moments.

Let me know if you end up making this recipe, this decadent product of an originally perceived failure. They were absolutely delicious and had the best texture, almost like a sour cream cake doughnut. I ended up eating two of these mini-bundt cakes the night I baked them. And I didn’t feel any guilt about it! It was a victorious celebration, after all, right?

Happy weekend! I’ll be tucked away inside my house for a couple of days. The forecast is calling for well over a foot of snow. We’ll see how well that prediction holds. I’m betting on maybe five inches!

Cheers!

Jayme

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

 

sparkling almond butter and chocolate cookies on a plate and on a cutting board

sparkling chocolate + almond butter cookies {and why procrastination works}

So, here we are, two days away from Christmas. My boyfriend is at the grocery, picking up the last-minute details for our dinner on Thursday, and I am hustling to finish a few projects, before I leave for work. I keep telling myself the mayhem at the restaurant is almost over. I can do this. Just two more nights. This month is our busiest, as you would expect, and the entire staff is either overworked or fighting off illness or just plain exhausted.

Despite the craziness, I do enjoy this time of year. I love stringing up lights on the front porch, making garlands and wreaths, decorating the tree, lighting as many candles as possible, and baking as much as I possibly can. I always make several batches of sparkling peanut butter cookies, but I swapped the PB for almond butter this year, and I think they might be absolutely perfect.

I usually set aside a day or two, where I bake everything I’m giving away as gifts. I’ll crank out seven or more batches of cookies, decorate them, and package them up. This system has always worked for me. This year, however, I took my mom’s advice. “Jayme,” she said, “Why don’t you do what I do and bake a batch ahead and freeze it. That way, you can bake your cookies throughout the month, and by the time Christmas is here, you won’t be stressed for time, and all of your baking will be done!”

Wow. Brilliant idea! I’ll actually plan ahead and save myself some sanity. Those were my initial thoughts. So, earlier this month, I baked two batches, put them in the freezer, and told myself and Steve not to touch them. What innocently started out as sneaking a cookie or two became a series of late-night cookie-eating fests. Both of those batches are gone. All 75 of those cookies.

Mom’s advice isn’t always right {I foresee my mom popping up in the comments later on!}. In this case, procrastination wins. I’m fine waiting until the last-minute to bake, if it will prevent me from eating all of the cookies destined for my friends and family. In fact, I am guilty of actually opening up gifts I’ve already packaged for my friends, if I knew there was a chocolate bar or some cookies inside. Why I can’t just bake a new batch or run down to the store amazes me. Instant gratification, I guess!

And I know I’m not the only one guilty here!


sparkling chocolate + almond butter cookies


  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Milk chocolate discs {I find mine at Whole Foods. You can also go classic and use chocolate kisses.}
  • granulated cane sugar for garnishing cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a standing mixing bowl, cream together butter and almond butter until well-blended.
  4. Add the egg, almond milk, and vanilla to the butter mixture.
  5. Slowly add the flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Form dough into 1″ balls and roll in granulated cane sugar. I pour some in a small bowl.
  7. Place rolled dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Space cookies about 2″ apart.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and immediately press the chocolate discs onto the center of each cookie.
  10. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Allow each cookie to cool, so that any melted milk chocolate has a chance to harden again. I’ve definitely made the mistake of stacking the cookies in haste, only to be disappointed with a chocolaty mess. I usually eat those, myself!
  • Try rolling the cookies in finely chopped toasted almonds or cinnamon sugar for another flavor profile and texture.
  • This recipe doubles well.

chocolate almond cookies cutting board with almond and chocolate cookies and vin santo

These cookies are so simple to make. They are extra delicious with the almond butter, but they are just as good, if you only have access to peanut butter. Lately, I have been making my own almond butter with my Vitamix. I find it cost-effective and satisfying to make my own. I’ll post the process soon.

For added decadence, which is always an option, I served these cookies alongside some Graham’s 10-Year Tawny Port. The notes of baking spices, cocoa powder, orange peel, toasted nuts, and dried figs are a perfect match for these cookies.

So, the moral of this delicious story is that procrastination CAN work in your favor. Set aside a baking day, last-minute, the day before you have to mail out your gifts. A freezer-full of a month’s worth of treats won’t be a temptation, and that added frenetic, holiday rush will power you through!

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season, no matter how you choose to celebrate! Come Thursday, I will be happily sequestered in my house, wearing my cozies, enjoying crab legs and Meursault, and watching Christmas movies. It looks like we’ll have snow on Thursday, as well!

Happy Holidays, my friends and family!

XO,

Jayme

summer berry crumble bake {vegan and gluten-free}

Like most of you out there, I have been hitting the local farms and markets, as often as I can here lately. I tend to bring home so much fruit or produce that I don’t have enough time to deal with it all. It is just so fresh vibrant and super tasty right now; it’s hard to resist. I was immediately inspired by a recent post by another Denverite, Ashlae, of Oh, Ladycakes. She made the most beautiful summer fruit pecan crisp, and I knew it was meant specifically for me {that’s so true!} and my ridiculous stockpile of summer fruit, waiting in the depths of my refrigerator.

I am seriously ready to pump some more life into my, well, life, and this blog. If you are a new reader, you may see some delicious posts or a colorful photo, but you have also probably noticed I have been a little out of sorts, down, and scattered, as well. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but I feel like a marionette many of my days. Like someone else is pulling the strings and calling the shots, but I can’t respond or talk back because I am just a doll on a string. I am in desperate need of balance.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my garden, I like my job as a sommelier, I love taking the time to cook a thought-out meal, and I even find gratification in staging shots, photographing, and documenting all of these things. I just miss being able to sit still and reflect, to devote 100% of my attention to a friend over coffee, and to feel like I have permission to escape up into the mountains and detach for a few hours…or days.

I find great peace simply chopping fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Sometimes, I really enjoy following a simple recipe and getting lost in the preparation, not trying to compose a creative concoction or interpretation. This is the kind of recipe that you can get lost doing. You gather, wash, chop, assemble, bake, and enjoy. I’d love for someone to actually make this for me tonight, but instead, I will write about the time I enjoyed it this past week.

I present to you my vegan berry crumble bake, inspired by Oh, Ladycakes’ summer fruit pecan crisp. It’s easy and oh-so-rewarding. And it is completely versatile, since you can substitute any fruits that are in season, when you happen across this post! Be sure to grab a can of full-fat coconut milk to make some extra coconut whipped cream for the garnish.


summer berry crumble cake


  • 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 20 or so cherries, pitted {optionally sliced in half}
  • 1/2 pint blackberries
  • 1/8 cup raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk or almond milk
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you are anti-oven because of the summer heat, you can totally make this dessert in the grill. Just monitor the temperature and place the baking tin on a stone or baking sheet.
  2. Wash and slice your fruit and set aside in a medium bowl.
  3. Toss the fruit together with the sugar and vanilla and set aside to incorporate.
  4. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the coconut oil with the coconut milk, just until the mixture is warm.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, almond flour, cinnamon, and sea salt.
  6. Stir in half of the coconut oil mixture into the flour mixture, using a fork to integrate. Add the remaining half of the coconut oil mixture, until the texture looks like coarse crumbs.
  7. Stir in the oats and nuts of your choice. I had almonds on hand, but pecans would be perfection.
  8. Evenly divide the fruit mixture into baking tins. You can use a 9 by 5″ loaf pan or use a mini-loaf pan, like I did. Top the fruit mixture with the crumble mixture.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until the crumble is nice and toasty brown.
  10. Let cool for 30 minutes, before serving.
  11. Serve with coconut whipped cream!

The boyfriend and I couldn’t finish these berry crumbles in one sitting, so we scooped out the dessert into small, ceramic bowls and heated them up, when we were ready for more. Topping the crumbles with coconut whipped cream is a perfect match, but when we ran out, So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream was a great stand-in.

Signing off with some photos from the mid-July backyard garden. Things are moving along quite quickly, almost too quickly. In about two weeks, we will have more tomatoes than we know what to do with. Time to prep all of the jars down in the basement, so we can do some canning!

And let me know if you have any tried-and-true organizational or anti-stress techniques. I will take notes and put them into practice! Cheers to a more uplifting post over the next couple of days. I am working on the up-and-up!

XO

 

strawberry shortcake {dairy-free and gluten-free}

I am really having a difficult time focusing and staying on task lately. In fact, I have an imposing deadline looming over me right this very moment, as I type. I am definitely placing some of the blame on this crazy heat wave for at least some of my lack of enthusiasm. We all know that we feel better, once we’ve tackled our projects, so why do we procrastinate and endure that itchy, uncomfortable feeling of putting things off?

I’ve brought up this topic before; it is definitely a recurring theme in my life. I find that I frequently become the most creative and productive, when I am pushing off something big, but doing that is a double-edged sword. I end up taking on more projects or coming up with great ideas, while postponing that all-important one. That’s where these shortcakes came in yesterday: a tasty and distracting diversion that supplanted my original goal of completing three writing assignments. The shortcakes turned out amazingly well, and I temporarily felt accomplished. About those writing assignments? They are still inchoate, but I am at least enjoying something tasty, as I scramble to finish my goal tonight.

I definitely enjoy my fair share of butter, cheese, and cream. I am finding, however, that my body truly feels better, when I abstain from dairy. It is just rather daunting, as a baker and cook, to realize that you have to change some of your practices and learn how to create delicious food without those components. I feel like I have just mastered baking, so it is a challenge to learn new techniques and find substitutes, so that my treats still taste great and have a palatable consistency. I have had quite a few failures, but this particular dessert came through. Baby steps. And my boyfriend, who is the biggest critic on all things delicious, gave it his well-earned nod of approval.

I didn’t even need to add a lot of sugar because the berries are tasting amazing right now. If only I could grow some in my garden! For some reason, they just don’t like the soil in my backyard. That’s okay, though. There are plenty of other things that are coming along quite nicely right now. Zucchini is just about to take off, and the dill and parsley are cranking. Salads have become a daily staple around here, which balances out my craving for sweet things.


strawberry shortcake {dairy-free and gluten-free}


  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 pound organic strawberries
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • coconut whipped cream {see recipe below}

This recipe is a slight adaptation from the Nourishing Home. I stumbled upon this blog, when I was looking for almond flour shortcake recipes, and I am completely inspired by the recipes I encountered. Alright, ready for some shortcakes? Me, too.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together the almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla.
  4. Separately whisk together the eggs and incorporate into the coconut oil mixture.
  5. Mix the coconut oil mixture into the almond flour mixture. I used a fork to break apart any clumps and distribute the moisture evenly. See the texture in the photo with the closeup of the fork.
  6. Form the shortcakes into six equally sized balls of dough and place on a parchment paper-lined baking pan. I flattened them out slightly. Kelly mentions that you can roll out the dough and use a cutter for interesting shapes. I opted for the drop biscuit approach.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown in color.
  8. Let shortcakes cool before serving.
  9. While your shortcakes are baking, you can assemble the strawberry topping. Simply hull the strawberries and slice them up. Place them in a bowl and add the raw sugar and lemon juice. The sugar will incorporate with the berries and become a lovely consistency for your shortcakes.
  10. Once the shortcakes have cooled, split them in halves and layer with strawberries and a dollop or two of whipped coconut cream.


coconut whipped cream


  • one can {15 ounces} full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • agave nectar to taste {2-3 teaspoons}

This was my second attempt at making coconut whipped cream. The first attempt was a fail because I purchased the wrong coconut milk. Be sure to select full-fat version, from the can, without any guar gum. I credit Angela from Oh She Glows for my success. Her tutorial on how to prepare coconut whipped cream is comprehensive and easy to understand. I won’t attempt duplicating her steps. Just go to her site and bookmark the recipe!

Simply refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight. When you are ready to make the whipped cream, invert the can, open the top, and drain out the watery substance into a separate container. {You can use that leftover, nutrient-rich coconut water for your smoothies!} You will be left with the pure cream at the bottom of the can. Spoon this out into your mixer and blast until creamy and smooth. Add any sweetener or vanilla, and enjoy! It is my new staple in the kitchen. I keep a few cans in my fridge, so I will always have a vegan whipped cream option on hand.

Well, send me some luck tonight! I am successfully caffeinated and prepped for a marathon writing session. I hope everyone’s fourth of July celebrations were fun and filled with all things celebratory and delicious. Mine surely was; although, I didn’t go out to view any fireworks. Kinda bummed about that, but there’s always next year. Cheers! And let me know of any favorite gluten-free recipes that you’ve been enjoying lately. I am upping my repertoire weekly!