Cakes, Pies, Cookies and Pastry

Rhubarb – In Pie and Beyond

Oh dear, HOW has the time passed so quickly (as if gardeners didn’t know). I have now planted 6 kinds of peas, multititudinous onions and leeks, beets and lettuces and other comestibles galore, as well as the first  flowers. Also pruned and deadheaded and mowed and edged and…

Result: blog silence. And here it is time for the next spring fling recipe swap.

rhubarb custard pie

If asparagus comes, can rhubarb be far behind?

This time it’s rhubarb, about which I have had a lot to say over the years on account of because I love it. Please use the search to find everything or go directly to the Rhubarb Custard Pie pictured above.

That post has links to other pies, but if you’re interested in the garden angle

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Mediterranean Lemon Cake

Its real name is Citrus and Olive Oil Cake, but I didn’t want to scare you in case you hadn’t noticed that olive oil in deserts is The Hot New Thing.


It’s hot all right, but it isn’t remotely new. Where olive oil is the dominant fat, it has been used in sweets for – I dunno – centuries at least, possibly a millennium or two.

lemon and olive oil cake with oranges

My new favorite cake, on a bed of Cointreau spiked orange slices, garnished with candy-ended clementines.

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Rugelach and Heath Bar Cookies: Searching For My Valentine

rugelach cookies

Rugelach, the cookie supreme: buttery, flaky, not too sweet, and small enough so you can pretend that eating a couple won't matter.

In spite of their undoubted splendor, I won’t be making Rugelach for Valentine’s Day this year. The problem is that I made them for Valentine’s Day two years ago and got reminded how good they are.

Doesn’t sound like a problem, but as a result I started making them frequently, and as a result of that they are no longer special enough to be this year’s Home Baked Gift of Love.

Besides, getting there is half the fun if you have a lot of clippings and cookbooks – and an appreciative husband to whom failed experiments are a kind of foreplay.

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SUMMER CAKE – Blueberry Peach Upside Down Cake with Raspberry Cream (and a variation, for reasons that will be explained)

blueberry peach upside down cake

Blueberry Peach Upside Down Cake ( actually this one is about half white nectarine)

My friend Nancy is not big on baking, but she does love belonging to the Maine Slice of The Cake Committee, so I suggested she try the impressive-for-how-little-fuss-it-takes Blueberry Peach etc. cake from The 3000 Mile Garden. Then I got to feeling uneasy, on account of not having made one for quite a while…

Decided it might be smart to bake one up, just to be sure I was still proud of it. Did. Am. But

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Maine Blueberry Hazelnut Oatmeal Cookies

hazelnut blueberry oatmeal cookies

The picnic classic, downeast edition

Usually, when I give a party, I prepare the food. But at our recent garden soiree for the Maine Farmland Trust, these cookies were my only contribution. (Food luminary Nancy Jenkins, an ardent Trust supporter, did all the rest, leaving me free to obsess about weeding.)

Because we wanted to showcase raw materials that come – or could come – from Maine,  the cookies were made from Maine-grown oats. Local eggs. Butter was my regular butter, Kate’s. The blueberries… well, of course

straw on garden path

The upper path is empty of people because everyone kept on going (the party was in the lower garden).

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Rhubarb Custard Pie – A Recipe to be Reckoned With

Though I do say so myself, I make a mean rhubarb pie:  elegantly plain, in the classic flaky crust plus sweetened fruit fashion; lily-painted, as in Deep Dish Rhubarb Peach Pie, and mixed with black cherry jam , as an easy rhubarb crostata that’s not really pie but is really tasty (and very nearly instant).


lattice top rhubarb pie

The pie that makes people say “ I thought I hated rhubarb, but this is wonderful!” is Carol’s Mother’s Deep Dish Rhubarb Custard Pie.

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Extremely Easy Rhubarb and Cherry Crostata – a Genuine Recipe

Rhubarb and Black Cherry Crostata

“Genuine recipe” is because the chowder in the last post wasn’t exactly conventional in the instuction department. “Extremely Easy” is because I’m feeling a little guilty about the fabulous-but-you-do-need-a-stand-mixer Celebration Bread.

So. This free-form fruit and jam tart takes about 10 minutes to put together and is impossible to screw up. The crunchy crust is made in the processor, rolls like a dream and is child’s play to handle. The rustic look means it always looks great; and although the post title says “rhubarb cherry,” you can also make blueberry peach

or just about any other combo that takes your fancy.

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More Maple – Recipes and Memory

Last week’s maple syrup celebration (pie included) went up in some haste, because I was being rushed by the weather. Day after day the same: sunny and pushing 70 degrees. Not suggestive of syrup season. I felt there was no time to lose.

Then –  what else is new? –  it proceeded to back around so cold the loss seemed more likely to involve  blooming crocus and hellebores, swelling buds of narcissus and hyacinth and early peonies. I spent a lot of time running around with heaps of straw instead of attending to maple posting.

Fortunately, in the event, Friday’s predicted low of 14 did not materialize; almost everything came through ok, and it’s once again March, chilly enough to talk about syrup.

Down East Company Coleslaw – a cabbage-taming touch of maple makes all the difference

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Crisp-crust Maple Walnut Pie – and More

Seems like only a moment ago this was shaping up to be the best maple syrup season in years. Alternation of frosty nights and mild days? Check. Saturated ground pushing the sap flow to gusher dimensions? Check. Buckets everywhere? Yup. Blogger testing maple recipes?  Night and day.

Ricotta with maple syrup and oil-cured black olives, a trio from heaven

And then – Hot Snap. Enemy of syrup making. Instant wilter of  species crocus.

in cool weather, three weeks of delight. If hot, not.

Who knew the drearier aspects of March could be something you’d miss?

The person whose crocus those are, of course. On the good side, I finally figured out how to get a crisp bottom crust on a maple walnut pie without pre-baking the shell, my very least favorite part of pastry making.

Walnut Maple Tart looking tipsy (‘twas the camera, not the tart) and Maple Walnut Pie

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Heath Bar Cookies – The Ultimate Chocolate Toffee Crunch

I swear this has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. If you love someone you will NOT make them these killer cookies, a frighteningly addictive combo of all four basic food groups: sugar, salt, fat and crunch. Plus chocolate.

half candy, half cookie - all good

I got the recipe from my friend Carol (no, not the Wine Colored Dahlia and Barbecued Shrimp Carol, another Carol), who calls them Aunt Emma Lee’s Heath Bar Cookies “The exhaltation of lowly saltine.”

Not sure if that’s Aunt Emma talking or Carol herself, but either way the description is accurate. Only mystery is why the title doesn’t mention “easy” and/or “quick.”

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