This cake is Hungarian in origin, but it’s also popular in parts of northern Serbia that were under Austro-Hungarian rule until the turn of the twentieth century. It’s commonly called Madjarska Palacinka Torta or Hungarian Pancake Torte. Our mothers and grandmothers would typically bake it for Sunday lunch because it’s so quick to make. The layers are somewhere between a pancake and a crêpe, and are sandwiched with various fillings. Almost always, there are walnuts, the most popular nut in the western Balkans. As my aunt used to say: “It isn’t a cake if it doesn’t have walnuts.”
Cardamom gives this almond cake a wonderful, delicate perfume.
Is there anything more fantastically homey than that most marvelous of soft-baked cookies, the snickerdoodle? The name is thought to have come from nineteenth-century New England, deriving from the word Schneckennudeln, a type of snail-shaped German cinnamon roll. Snickerdoodles are famously associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Amish communities of Indiana, which explains how they made their way to the Midwest and have long been a homespun favorite here.
This recipe is autumn in a loaf pan. The deep flavor of molasses is the perfect companion to crisp fall mornings, and calls back childhood memories of cooking next to grandma over a wood stove while fog slowly lifts from the mountains. In Southern Appalachia, families relied on locally-harvested sweeteners such as honey or sorghum molasses. Sweet breads like this one were reserved for celebrations and holidays, in contrast to the daily pans of cornbread or biscuits. Each bite of this rich bread tastes like the mountains, like home. The recipe comes together quickly, but be sure to sift the flour to avoid clumping in the loaf. For a more authentic flavor, use sorghum molasses. We recommend serving it warm with butter and coffee!
Our pecan sticky buns are justifiably famous, since they beat Bobby Flay in a throwdown. We once calculated that we bake off about 220,000 sticky buns a year (that’s over 600 daily) just to keep up with the demand. When something is that popular, is there any reason to tweak it or improve it? Well, in New England we can’t help but get pretty excited about apple season every fall. I myself eat at least an apple a day (I have one in my bag now) and when the idea to switch out the pecans for apples came up, I couldn’t wait to try it. I love how the tart cider and the fresh, spiced apples bring our sticky bun to a whole new level. These are insanely good and I actually love them better than the original.
Florentines are pretty little lacy cookies, studded with sliced almonds and dipped in chocolate. These were in my childhood cookbook and I could not make enough of them. They are so simple to make and yet so elegant. Give these to close friends and loved ones.
Popsicles (known here as artikim) are a national obsession, delivering a refreshing blast chill when the temperatures spike from hot to hades. From the cheap, delicious, artificially flavored ices you can buy along the beach to Mexican-style paletas, which come in a million gourmet flavors, it’s easy to get a frozen/sweet fix on a stick. To show off the gorgeous fruit in season, I based these pops around thick, juicy slices of figs. I slide them into popsicle molds, then tip a tart, honey-sweetened yogurt mixture around them before freezing. If you can, try to arrange your pops so the figs remain visible (see instructions in recipe), but no matter how you build them, they’re delicious. The tahini magic shell really is two-ingredient heaven; dip once and you’ve got a semi-translucent sesame slick that hardens on contact with the pops; dip twice for a thicker layer. I make a generous amount of the magic shell because it makes dipping the pops easier; you can refrigerate any leftover shell, then gently rewarm it in the microwave. If you want to halve it, you’ll just have to tip and swirl the pops around to coat them.
I’ve made these so many times, so you won’t have to. On the surface this seems like a dead-simple recipe, but it took quite a bit of tinkering to nail. Tahini has a complex molecular structure made up of lots of tiny carbohydrate molecules that cling to liquid for dear life, seizing up the way chocolate does if you add liquid to it at the wrong time. But if you play your carbs right and add the tahini last, after all of the other ingredients, it stirs in smoothly and bakes up into these sexy little squares that get better as they sit around. To make these non-dairy, swap in a neutral-flavored olive oil or vegetable oil instead of the butter.
Something magical happened the day I decided to dump a container of fresh ricotta into my standard biscuit recipe. I thought I would get lumps and layers of cheese in the biscuits, but I got something better than that. The ricotta melts into the biscuit in most places and creates a fluffy crumb that I had been trying to achieve for years but never knew the secret to. These are dangerously addictive. Proceed with caution.
There should be a word to describe the way the soft texture of this cake matches the flavour of the vanilla, strawberries and almonds in it. But that word doesn’t exist, so the only way to know how incredibly good this cake tastes is to go into the kitchen and make it. If you come up with a word for it, drop us a line. For the best results, pull all the cake ingredients out of the fridge about an hour before you start. It will make your baked cakes fluffier and tastier.