Strawberry-Rhubarb Ugly Pie


Once upon a time, I was six. And once, even, I was eight. But never before have I been a parent of a six-year old and an eight-year old, and I have to ask, does it have to be so full of yelling, screaming, crying, and other forms of conflict? And I’m just talking about Santa Maria and myself—just kidding. But seriously, did kids always fight this way, this often?

Now, I’m not blind, and I’m not an idiot, so I know I bear some responsibility. If the 1971 film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” is to be believed, mothers and fathers are to blame when their children are brats, though I don’t happen to know any brats myself.

Around the dinner table, things often come to a head, especially when dessert is served. Santa Maria recently made a quick strawberry-and-rhubarb sort of compote with biscuits, and the children went to war over who was getting more biscuits, or who was getting bigger biscuits, or some other earth-shattering slight. Their yelling took all the sweetness out of the moment.

Later, Santa Maria was distressed, and she told me privately in the kitchen that she couldn't be happy when everyone in the family was fighting. She looked up at be dolefully, and asked if I could be happy in situations like this. I didn’t have the heart to tell her then that it was actually the only way I knew how to be happy. Growing up, my parents yelled at each other and my siblings routinely violated the Geneva Conventions when they were supposed to be babysitting me.

Despite (well, actually, because of) the intermittent conflagrations, we’re working hard around the table and house to defuse the fighting, to cease the yelling, and drain the swamp of anger. It’s a slow process. At our best moments, we work together to have a family meeting once a week (if you haven’t checked out Bruce Feiler’s “The Secrets of Happy Families,” which goes into detail about family meetings, I suggest you do so right away; it’s a very useful book).

Santa Maria decided to make this dessert because she was looking for something that was easier and a bit more healthy than pie. It’s basically a pie filling, without the crust. I dubbed it, with deepest affection, “Ugly Pie” (and that was before the fighting started).

If you wanted to fancy this up, you could top the biscuit with the compote and then cover it with whipped cream. You’d have a pretty decent dessert then and there. This recipe is a bit of a work-in-progress, and you might want to play around a bit with the biscuit part of it. The compote, on the other hand, is just perfect. Consider making that and putting it over vanilla ice cream. Just don’t fight over it.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Ugly Pie

  • 2 cups hulled strawberries
  • 2 cup rhubarb
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • a light 1/4 cup tapioca
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Mix together ingredients, and let sit 15-20 min (or you'll have little hard nubbins of tapioca)

Place in 10" glass pie pan or casserole

Make biscuit batter:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift ingredients 3 times

Then cut in 4 Tablespoons butter

Quickly stir in

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Until it sticks together

Drop/form into little 2-3 inch blobs on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes

Bake the fruit for 30-40 minutes.

Drop biscuits in the cooked compote, if Ugly Pie is desired. Serve with compote over the biscuit, if so desired. Whipped cream works in both cases.

Easter with a small “e” follow-up: The saga of the Almond-Apple Crumble

I will get to a post about that delicious tarragon-and-pea soup shortly, I promise, but in the meantime I have to confess to being obsessed with something else from the day. A giant meal like the one I hosted for Easter is a kind of dizzying affair. There’s a lot of work, certainly, but there are also a lot of benefits. With a large group, bits and pieces of conversation fly by and hang in the air. You learn tidbits about family members and siblings. Heck, if you’re not running to and from the kitchen, you might even learn more, like what their favorite color is, or who’s their favorite band, or what they plan to do with their lives. I was busy mashing potatoes, so I missed that.

However, as the host on Sunday, I tried to steer the conversations, at least briefly, to a higher plain, by asking that everyone bring a quote about rebirth. One of my readers asked me to post some of the quotes, so the few I could find and reproduce are below.

The other nice thing about having a good-sized gathering is that each different person at the table brings something new to the meal. Sometimes it’s as ethereal as a line of poetry or some funny insight. Other times it’s as real and mouthwatering as my friend Zoe’s Almond Apple Crumble.

She prepared it at home and brought it to my house to cook as we ate the main course. As it baked, its rich scent rattled around in my brain and psyche, and I said to her, “It smells so good, I think we need to cancel the dinner and just go straight to the dessert.” The other nice thing about big meals is that there often are leftovers. I’ve been eating that apple crumble for three days now, and I just finished it last night.

My friend Zoe is from England, and the recipe she used is from a book by Delia Smith, who she describes as “a British institution.” The recipe, unfortunately, is written out in grams and other U.K. measurements, so it isn’t exactly useful to me at the moment. I’m linking to it here, though, because you might be able to make the conversions. Also, she found the recipe through a great website called One Recipe Daily, which is also well worth checking out.

If you make the crumble, let me know how it goes (and if you live NYC, invite me over for some of it!). In the meantime, here are some of the poems that were quoted from during my Easter with a small “e.”


i thank You God for most this amazing

by e. e. cummings


i thank You God for most this amazing

day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees

and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything

which is natural which is infinite which is yes


(i who have died am alive again today,

and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth

day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay

great happening illimitably earth)


how should tasting touching hearing seeing

breathing any--lifted from the no

of all nothing--human merely being

doubt unimaginable You?


(now the ears of my ears awake and

now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89).  Poems.  1918.


7. God’s Grandeur



THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.           

  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;           

  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil           

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?           

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;                    5

  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;           

  And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil           

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.           


And for all this, nature is never spent;           

  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;                    10

And though the last lights off the black West went           

  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—           

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent           

  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


My Heart Leaps Up

William Wordsworth

My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The Child is father of the Man;

And I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety. 

The Sweetness and Light of Banana Bread

Santa Maria is the one who fills the Stay at Stove Dad household with sweetness and light, to borrow and bend a phrase from Matthew Arnold. She does it in so many ways, but the relevant one here is through her baking. One of her stalwart sweets (perhaps only I could view a treat as hardworking) is Banana Bread.

I’ll confess to sometimes buying too many of the ubiquitous fruit, in the hopes that some will get overripe before we can eat them. In which case, Santa Maria, given her proudly frugal upbringing, occasionally feels compelled to bake the bread. She started with a Bittman recipe, but quickly—and quite fantastically—made it her own. I think my mouth is watering just writing about the bread. It is that good.

And she’s a good one with words, too. For though I love bananas, Nina and Pinta have developed an almost comical aversion to them. They detest bananas, and I think their reaction is an early form of rebellion that I would consider healthy were it not for the fact that they are missing out on the potassium and other nutrients in the fruit. But Santa Maria knows how to convince them. “My girls both hate bananas, and although they understand clearly that there are bananas in the bread, they eat it with alacrity!" she says. "And they like that I call it, when talking with them, 'Golden Calypso Bread.'"

Banana Bread  (a.k.a. Golden Calypso Bread)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


  • 1 ¾ cup unbleached flour with germ
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (yum!!)


In a separate bowl, cream together:

  • 7 Tablespoons butter (one short shy of a stick)
  • 1/3 cup sugar  (you can reduce it to ¼ cup)

Then add to butter mixture:

  • 4 very ripe smallish bananas (that you’ve smooshed up with your hands.  If this makes you squeamish, you can also use a fork, but it’s much quicker and pretty darn fun to squish squash smloompch.  **Excellent activity for your kid helpers).

A note on buxom bananas:  even organic bananas can vary widely in size from 7” to 12” and more.  If you have the huge bananas, you are fine with three; for the smaller ones, 4 or even 5 will work.



  • 2 eggs to the butter mixture.


Fold the flour mixture in quickly and gently into the egg/butter mixture (ie. Don’t overmix, you can still see some flour-y parts.  If you do overmix, it activates the gluten and makes it tougher).

Bake for 30 minutes and check center for done-ness.  The knife should be clean.

I bake this mixture in three standard size loaf pans (greased lightly w butter).  You can make a thicker loaf, and divide it into just two loaf pans that will cook 45-60 minutes. 

Serve topped with more butter on freshly sliced hot bread, drink with a glass (you’ve frosted in the freezer) of cold milk.

Note: It is especially nutritious if you add walnuts.  Also, this bread freezes well and you can just slice off a piece or two and then toast it in a toaster on the ‘defrost’ setting.  If you’ve used walnuts, they toast up very nicely.

Nature Theatre of Oklahoma Brownies

NTOK brownies[1]
Life, love, and marriage all work in weird and mysterious ways. I’m old enough to know this, and young enough to find it captivating, so when Santa Maria told me she wanted to go see the Nature Theater of Oklahoma at the Public Theatre, I didn’t bat an eye. “This is why I married her,” I said to myself, “because she’s kooky,” thinking also, “What on earth would a nature theatre be doing visiting New York City?”

Well, the joke was on me—the Nature Theater of Oklahoma is a very local (i.e. downtown) ensemble company that gets its name from “last chapter of Kafka’s unfinished novel ‘Amerika’,” according to this Bomb Magazine interview with the founders. Its latest production, “Life and Times: Episodes 1-4,” is a ten-hour affair, which can be seen either in one marathon session, where food is served, or in various single-night episodes.

The show is described on the Public Theatre’s website as a “person's account of their own life from earliest memory through adolescence.” The Daily News goes into more detail: “Specifically, it’s the life of Kristin Worrall, a Nature Theater member. The show’s text - including countless utterances of “um,” “like,” “yeah” and “haha” - is drawn from phone chats between her and Pavol Liska, who founded the company with his wife, Kelly Copper.” If you want to read more about what that might mean, Hilton Als gives it a rave review on The New Yorker’s website.

Personally, I was less interested in the production than in making Santa Maria happy. If she wanted to go see the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma on Mars, I would have built her a rocket. So, I did what could to get her tickets, and through the generosity of the company, a pair were set aside for her. All she had to do, in exchange, was to make the brownies that are served during the marathon sessions. The recipe comes from Worrall herself, which means that even if you don’t get to the show, you can still experience a little bit of the drama and excitement nonetheless. Just make the brownies. Here’s Santa Maria’s full report, followed by the recipe, which Worrall has generously offered to share, both in single batch form and expanded to feed 900 folks.

Warning:  this post is full of extreme opinions, proceed with caution.

Unlike Stay at Stove Dad, I am a passionate baker and sweet tooth.  I am picky about books, men, and baked goods and I am extremely picky about husbands and brownies. I waited a long time to marry (in dog years I would have been nearly 300) and I never, ever buy brownies (because to do so results too often in heartbreak).  I never even bake brownies, for I have never found a recipe that is really good, let alone great.

But this is a great brownie recipe, and I only baked it as a small gesture of thanks for tickets to the show, for which I am grateful. It is straightforward, and, actually, very easy.

The aroma of these brownies is enough to drive your neighbors delirious.  Luckily, if you cut modest, 2” squares, you’ll have plenty to share.  I sent sending care packages to SASD’s work friends, two dear friends – one down the block, one visiting from Northampton, and to two neighbors.

Give yourself at least 30 minutes to cool the chocolate/butter mixture.  (I usually cavalierly disregard directions, but I was too worried about making the brownies “heavy and dry” to risk it). One note: You don’t need to use a double boiler for the melting of the chocolate if you have a VERY low ‘melt’ setting on your stovetop.

I adapted it a few ways: I didn’t have instant espresso powder (and had no desire to buy an entire container of it) so I used finely ground, organic “Love Buzz” coffee. I used regular (Maldon) sea salt.  And I used old-school Baker’s unsweetened chocolate squares along with Green and Black’s 70% organic dark chocolate.  All other ingredients are organic. 

Be careful to follow temperature and timing directions closely – your knife should come out mostly clean (from the center when testing doneness), but okay to have a tiny bit of adhesion of the batter.  I think the 1 T of coffee is a key ingredient.

Kristin Worrall’s Nature Theatre of Oklahoma Brownies

  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 2.5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (Callebaut is my favorite)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T butter 
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 T instant espresso powder
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 1 T coarse vanilla sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 13x9 baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler. Let this mixture cool before using; if you don't, the brownies will be heavy and dry.

In a small bowl combine the flour and baking powder.

Beat the eggs together in a large bowl until light and foamy. Add the salt, vanilla, and espresso powder. 

Continue beating while gradually adding sugar.

Stop beating and manually combine the chocolate mixture to the eggs with a few swift strokes using a large spoon or spatula.

Before the mixture is uniformly colored, fold in the flour/baking powder mixture until just barely dispersed.

Add to pan, and bake for 25 minutes, rotate pan and sprinkle top of brownies with coarse vanilla sea salt.  Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until done.

And in case you need to make a bigger batch, here's the ingredient list converted to make 900 brownies (which is how many Worrall made for the NTOK Marathons):

19 lbs. unsweetened chocolate
13 lbs. semi-sweet chocolate
24 lbs. butter
26 dozen large eggs
2 cups sea salt
2 cups vanilla
6 cups instant espresso powder
74 lbs. granulated sugar
27 lbs. all-purpose flour
2 cups baking powder
6 cups vanilla sea salt

Santa Maria’s Scrumptious Cherry Pie

Much like the inner workings of a marriage, a good cherry pie is a bit mysterious to me, being both sweet and tart, if you know what I mean. I’ve never had much of a sweet toot (the only times I had candy growing up was once-in-a-blue-moon on summer vacations, when I got to buy a pack of Bubblicious, and on certain Sundays when my folks would reward good behavior in church with a pack of Lifesavers), so desserts aren’t really my thing. Santa Maria seems to have come out of childhood with a different set of expectations (her mom’s idea of dessert is a good pie; she keeps homemade ones in the freezer to this day), and she is in charge of the pie making in our house. Her cherry pie is a wonder to behold.

One thing makes her cherry pie special, and that is the cherries. This sounds like a tautology, but I can explain. The cherries are tart, and not sweet, and they are packed in water. These tart cherries are only slightly less hard to find around New York, it seems, than an affordable apartment.  We once had a dinner party years ago, and asked some friends to bring some. They scoured the gourmet store Dean & Deluca, only to arrive with a pretty glass jar of something completely other than the vaunted tart cherry. We did without pie that night.

As hard as the tart cherries are to find, Santa Maria’s dad has a line on them. He picked up some from the Oregon Fruit Products Company at his local grocery store (and you can find them here, on the internet, too), and when we were down at their house for the holidays, Santa Maria made a cherry pie for him for his birthday. It’s his favorite.

Santa Maria’s Scrumptious Cherry Pie

  • 2 cans tart cherries packed in water (15 oz. cans)
  • juice of ½ lemon (fresh)
  • ½ cup juice from cherries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup tapioca
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


For the 9” pie crust (for a top and bottom crust)

  • 2 c. flour (pastry flour, without germ makes it more tender)
  • 2/3 c. butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons ice water


Make pie crust this way:

Mix flour and salt.  Add butter. Use a pastry cutter (or two knives) to cut butter into the flour, until the butter is the size of peas.  Gradually add the water (1 T at a time) and mix gently with a fork until it gathers into a ball.  Divide into two balls. You can gently press dough together with a piece of wax or parchment paper.  Press down so that each ball forms a hockey puck like shape.  Chill for an hour; roll out dough and place in a (preferably) glass pie pan.  If you roll out the crust before the filling is ready, put them back in the fridge so that the butter lumps don’t melt.  The little yellow blotches you see in your crust are pockets of butter and what make it flaky and delicate.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Drain cherries, reserve juice.  Add lemon juice, reserved cherry juice, sugar, tapioca, and cinnamon to the cherries.  Let sit 15 minutes (don’t skip this step or you’ll have little hard pebbles in your pie of the unsoftened tapioca).  Pour into the crust.  Place top crust on top and crimp the edges (this is fun! You can use your thumb and forefinger with a pinching motion, or use a fork).

Cut some air vents in the top crust to let out steam. 

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar on top. 

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and finish baking another 30 minutes.  Ovens are rather temperamental and you should check to see that the crust is getting golden – a good reason to use a glass pan (though it’s fine to use aluminum or ceramic if that’s what you have on hand).

Notes: She says, “Even though I have a sweet tooth, I like my fruit pies on the tart side.  If you don’t, you may want to use ¾-1 cup of sugar.  It is imperative that you serve this pie hot from the oven (oh, let it sit 10 or 15 minutes) with a dainty dollop of vanilla ice cream.” Also: “I prefer using organic ingredients and I encourage you to do so as well if you can afford it.” 

Additional Note: If you are scared of making a pie crust, Santa Maria says it will work fine with a commercially available pie crust. The filling is so good, that I would say it would be worth trying. Here's how it looks. Yum!


How to Make 2013 Something Special

I think 2013 is going to be a year of changes and improvements in life around the Stay at Stove Dad household. Just look at what we’ve accomplished already: only a week has gone by in January, and we have finally fixed our oven. Yes, Virginia, there is a Jenn-Air service company that can stick to its word.

The saga of the broken oven is last year’s story. We now have a working one, and that is a wonderful thing. I’m even planning on having a dinner party later this week. I didn’t know how much I missed the oven until Saturday. I had gone out for a run, and Santa Maria had been busy while I was gone. She made gingerbread cookies, and when I came back into the apartment, the first thing I smelled was the sharp and sweet scent of the cookies baking. Here’s the recipe, photographed from an ancient cookbook belonging to Santa Maria’s mother.


I hope 2013 is a year of great improvements for you, too.  Making these cookies is an easy way to start. Enjoy!

Very Scary Times

Hurricane Sandy just put us through a scary few days. We spent Tuesday night with gusts of wind rattling the windows and the sounds of sirens echoing in the darkness. Twitter was ablaze with devastating pictures and nerve-rattling rumors--at one point the New York Stock Exchange was reportedly under three feet of water. That turned out to be a falsehood, but much of the city was flooded terribly. Large numbers of people are still without power and all of the city is without its mass-transit lifeblood. But thanks to the hard work of the police and fire departments, and the good management of the mayor's office and the dedication of the city's employees, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. And it is almost Halloween. Pinta wanted the mouth wanted the mouth of the Jack O' Lantern to say "Boo!" Like everyone over the past few days, I did the best I could. And here is something sweet, if that's what you need now.

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Custard Dessert

  • one 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup 1% milk (or whole or skim)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ginger
  • 1/4 t cloves
  • 1/4 t salt
  • ¼ cup sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a 9-inch pie or tart dish. Or use individual ramekins. This will probably make about twelve, three-inch ramekins.

Bake approximately 30 minutes in oven at 350 degrees.  Let cool 10-15 minutes. Garnish with whipped cream.


Frozen Grapes

Though summer is about to come to a close, you still might be looking for a healthy frozen treat. Here's one to consider: frozen grapes. Something wonderful happens to grapes when you freeze them. They become crunchy and captivating on the tongue. The sugars inside the fruit must become concentrated because they become as appealing as ice cream.

Santa Maria brought home some grapes the other day, and Pinta thought she should freeze them. “Make a big batch,” she said to her mother. I asked her why, and Pinta replied, “Because I like them.”

I’m not the first to discover frozen grapes (the idea came into our house from Santa Maria, and I’m sure she got it somewhere else), and I know I won’t be the last to recommend them. (My friend Debbie Koenig wrote about them a few years ago, and compared them to something that can’t be mentioned in a family blog).  

They are so easy to make, it its almost unbelievable. Just rinse and dry a bunch. Take them off the stems if you’d like. Put them on a baking sheet.  Or not. And just put them in the freezer until they are hard.

Santa Maria put some in our freezer’s ice bucket the other day, and a few ended up in some glasses of drinking water by accident. Just watch out for that. 

Not Bread Alone Dept: A Pound Cake Recipe!

When Santa Maria and the kids were away, I have to say, life around the kitchen was very easy. I had forgotten what it was like just to cook for myself. It was so easy that I almost (and just almost) didn’t know what to do with myself.

I don’t know what it might be like for you (if you are a parent), but for me, my mind is never fully my own. It is split right down the middle, with one part belonging to me, and the other belonging to my family. I’m always thinking about my kids no matter where they might be or what they might be doing. I didn’t have any responsibilities last week, other than to myself, and yet I still didn’t have a unified consciousness. In the back of my mind, a constant script was running, along these lines: “Is there enough milk in the house? Do we need bread? What will the kids eat for dinner any given night?”

Now that Santa Maria and kids are back, I’ve ramped up the cooking. This morning, I made a few weeks worth of Bolognese, Black Beans, and Dhal. If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that’s how I do it: Cook, cook, cook. Cook to freeze. Cook and have dinner ready by lunch. Cook to breathe.

But life around my kitchen is not all daily grind. Man does not live by soups and stews alone. A few weeks ago, in July, after our trip to High Hampton, I was feeling so well rested and relaxed that I did something very special (at least for me): I did a bit of baking.

At dinner one night down at High Hampton they served pound cake for dessert. Nina was very taken by it, and when we came home I came across an old newspaper clipping from the Dining section of the New York Times. It had a recipe for a Lemon Pound Cake from an esteemed chef. It looked rich. It looked delicious. (Full disclosure: one of my potentially habitual weakness is buying and eating slices of those NYC deli pound cakes that are so moist and yummy). It looked irresistible. I waved the clipping around and told Nina that could make it for her.

Then I read the recipe. It was so complicated that there was no way I could make it. It involved a lemon-syrup bath. A Lemon-syrup bath? What was I thinking? I don’t have much experience baking, so I checked with Santa Maria. She rolled her eyes, and confirmed my suspicions.

But I still wanted to make a pound cake. I figured the “Joy of Cooking” would be a good place to look, and sure enough it had a recipe that passed two important tests: I thought I could do it, and Santa Maria agreed. 

Whenever working with a new recipe, it’s important to a couple of things before starting.  The first is to read the recipe through all the way, at least a couple of times. The second is to make sure you all your ingredients ready before beginning. So I lined everything up.

Until I made a pound cake, I didn’t understand what was in it, or were its name came from. It has a pound of butter. (The first recipes had a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, and a pound of eggs, according to “The New Food Lover’s Companion.). A pound of butter is a lot of butter. A whole lot. I was glad I knew there would be other people around to eat the cakes. That weekend we were visiting friend and also going to a dinner party. I could share one loaf with my friends, and bring the other the dinner party, but I’m getting ahead of myself.


The head note in the “Joy of Cooking” included a little line about creaming the batter “An electric mixer is a true aid for creaming this batter,” but I think it misses the point. Being new to baking, I was shocked by the first step. “Cream 2 cups butter, no substitutes. Add slowly and cream well: 2 cups sugar.” The thing that shocked me was how good butter and sugar taste together. I almost stopped completely at after this step. What was the point in going on?


But then I filled the cake pans, and put them in the oven.


One pan had a little bit more batter than the other, and it took a few extra minutes to make sure the larger loaf was cooked through. The old knife in the dough trick worked well. When it came out dry, it was done. We took them to our friends, and we took them to the dinner party. Everywhere we went, folks enjoyed the cakes. I wish I had the time and energy to make them again soon, but on the other hand, it’s good that I’ve been busy cooking other things for my family. All that butter can’t be good for anyone. At least not all the time.


The girls and I made the pound cakes together. Working with them might not have made things easier for me, but they sure made things better. I don't think I would have been inspired to make the cake without Nina's initial enthusiasm. Easy is overrated. 


Lemon Pound Cake (adapted from “Joy of Cooking”)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Have all ingredients at room temperature before starting, about 70 degrees.

  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 9 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon organic lemon extract
  • 4 cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and the sugar.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Beat the batter well after the addition of each egg.

Beat in the vanilla and the lemon extract.


Sift the flour, and resift with the cream of tartar and salt.

Add the sifted ingredients slowly, at the lowest speed, mixing only until thoroughly blended.


Pour the batter into a creased tube pan or into two greased loaf pans lined with parchment paper or into a greased and floured hinged loaf pan.


Bake the cake for about 1 hour for pans; 15 minutes longer for tube pan.


Note: To make the cake fluffier, separate the egg yolks from the whites. Add the yolks only per the instructions for the eggs above. Whip the whites until stiff but not dry and fold them in as the very last step before pouring the batter into the pans. I have not tried it this way, but it sounds good. I did it the original, dense way, and it was delicious. 


Double the Butter, Double the Fun! A Scotch Shortbread Recipe and More

Over the weekend, I heard from a reader who said that the Dutch Baby recipe on this site has taken him back to his childhood, and he was delighted to be able to make the treat for his own children. That recipe, of course, came from Santa Maria, and in the spirit spreading more joy, I asked her to write about the desserts she made on Friday.

I'd say that I'm the Jack Sprat of desserts, but I have been know to make one or two. And Santa Maria does far more than just bake and make chocolate sauce. She makes kale chips, and does homework with the kids. Here's her post:

I love treats, I love hanging out with my girls, and I love Stay at Stove Dad.  After a very hectic work week, by Friday afternoon it was time to enjoy the lazier rhythms of summer vacation. The girls and I decided to bake Scotch Shortbread and make a fresh blackberry tart to welcome Stay at Stove Dad home and give him another use for a delicious but neglected container of crème fraiche that's been hanging around the fridge.

The shortbread recipe is quite similar to the pate sucree recipe in many of our cookbooks, so I decided to make one batch of shortbread, then use 2/3 of the dough to make thinner shortbread squares (I prefer them not too doughy, tender in the center, crispy on the outer edges); and then to use 1/3 of the recipe as the pate sucree for the tart (just needs the addition of half a beaten egg).

If this sounds complicated, it is NOT.  It is VERY EASY!!  If you’ve got the butter softened in advance, it will take you FIVE MINUTES.  Really.  Yum!!  We had so much shortbread we took happy packages to two of our neighbors, Cyd and Ivy, and Ivan and Sandy.

It was good to hear from Jordan S. that he loved the Dutch Baby recipe and that it was a big hit with his family – and it inspired me to share some more recipes for my favorite treats. 

Scotch Shortbread (Joy of Cooking)

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • 1 cup butter (ie 2 sticks)- warm to room temperature, approx. 70 degrees, so it’s easy to cream but not melting
  • 2 cups flour (I sift it directly over the creamed butter)
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar (also sifted directly over the butter)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt.

Blend the ingredients together then press into an ungreased 9x9 pan  ***I used only two thirds of the batter for these.***

Prick the top with a fork (see picture).  If the fork is lifting up the dough, dip it into cool water between pricks.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle, if you wish, with a tiny bit of powdered sugar.

Pate Sucree Tres Vite!

Take the remaining third of your shortbread dough and add ½ a beaten egg (I used a whole beaten egg and it was too much – made the pastry a little eggier than I wished).  You can use the rest of the beaten egg in some fried rice or just cook it in a skillet for a quick protein hit which you probably need anyway if you’re a busy parent.

Press the dough into a tart pan.  I used a small 8”diameter pan (it would be fine to have the pastry thinner as well, so you could use a slightly bigger pan).  Gently press in fresh blackberries (or whatever summer fruit you have on hand – I imagine plums would be quite tasty), and bake in the oven  (also at 325 degrees) for 45 minutes.

It was a minor tragedy that we did not have whipped cream on hand to serve with the blackberry tart.  Perhaps you will plan more wisely!