Raspberry Peach Upside-down Cake

Every year after school is out, our young community teenage girls have a 3-week “summer camp” with several of our Sisters. This year they went to New Hampshire for the event.
They were very excited and eagerly looking forward to the many activities ahead of them: lots of time out of doors, hiking, swimming, boating and gardening. I knew that nature crafts would be a part of their learning experiences, and also that there would be indoor activities such as housekeeping and of course, some cooking. I made them promise me that they would surprise me by making something new and different from any of their old standbys. They did not let me down, but kept their promise and came up with this scrumptious, raspberry peach upside down cake, inspired by a raspberry picking event that none of us knew would be happening before they went to camp. I could not have been more pleased!
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Raspberry Peach Upside-down Cake
SERVINGS
10-12people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
50-55minutes
PREP TIME
30 minutes
READY IN
80-85 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice peaches. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  3. Place 6 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until melted then add brown sugar and cook until both are combined and melted, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Approximately 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  4. Arrange peach slices in a circular pattern (overlapping if needed) in skillet on top of sugar. Add raspberries in areas not covered with peaches. Set aside.
  5. Cream together vanilla, 6 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar until creamy. Add eggs and beat until the yellow disappears. Add sour cream and blend.
  6. On low speed, add flour mixture and beat just until combined stopping to scrape the sides a few times. Pour batter onto peaches and smooth out to the edges.
  7. Bake 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  8. Run a knife around the edges to release and invert onto a cake plate allowing the cake to cool another 10 minutes. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

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Calypso Dips

‘Tis the season for gift giving! Here is a fun little cookie called a Calypso dip that we have used for many Bethany retreatants, teas and to include in gift baskets. Much of its appeal comes from its novel shape and unexpected flavors, just a little different from the usual cookie. Give it a try and you might decide to add it to your own collection of Holiday goodies.

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Calypso Dips
SERVINGS
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
12-15minutes
PREP TIME
READY IN
1hour

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Blend in dry ingredients.Chill dough for at least 1 hour.Shape into sticks 3”x ½ “ long.Bake in oven 375 ˚ degrees on un-greased cookie sheets, 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Dip one end into frosting then into ¾ cup chopped nuts. Frosting: Melt ½ cup chocolate chips, 2 Tablespoons sugar, 2 Tablespoons water and ½ teaspoon rum flavoring in the top of a double boiler over boiling water.

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Christmas Cookies

I think most people will agree that an essential ingredient to the
recipe for an “old fashioned Merry Christmas” (or even a contemporary
one) is the baking of homemade cookies.  Old favorites are always a
must and adding new ones is also fun, as are cookie swaps where each
person brings their favorites and samples everyone else’s.  If you
haven’t done this in a while, you might want to consider it for this
holiday season.

This buttery almond cherry cookie recipe is one I came by in such
manner,  and it has remained as a “keeper” ever since.  These “cheery”
little creations are great to have on hand for unexpected holiday
guests, or scheduled ones. They can make an attractive gift as well.
However you use them, you will never have too many, so make plenty of
them when you do.

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Christmas Cookies
SERVINGS
60
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
7-9minutes
PREP TIME
1hour
READY IN
3.15 hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle almonds in ungreased heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently until nuts begin to brown, then stirring constantly until nuts are light brown. Cool 10 minutes.
  2. In food processor, process almonds until finely chopped; set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add egg and almond extract. On medium speed, beat until smooth.
  5. On low speed, beat in flour, baking powder, and salt until dough forms. Stir in cherries and chopped almonds.
  6. Form dough into 2 (8-inch) logs. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  7. Heat oven to 375°F. Cut dough into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices. On ungreased cookie sheets, place slices 2 inches apart. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Harvest Apple Fritters

Apple Fritters… crunchy, sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth on the outside, cinnamon-y dough with apple chunks on the inside.  I can’t think of a better use for our apple drops that we are collecting in the early hours of the morning.  A delightful early morning treat to pair with a steaming cup of coffee on a crisp fall morning.

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Harvest Apple Fritters
SERVINGS
12fritters
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
fritters
COOK TIME
4minutes
PREP TIME
10minutes
READY IN
15minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pour oil into a cast iron or other heavy duty skillet so that it is approximately 1 ½” deep. Heat oil on medium high. Oil is ready when dough floats to top. (don’t let it get too hot or the fritters will burn!)—do a little tester with the dough to be sure the oil is hot enough.
  2. Prepare the glaze by stirring the milk (or half and half) and sifted powdered sugar together in a small bowl—you want it to be a fairly thick glaze.
  3. Prepare the fritter by combining the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir in milk, vanilla and egg until just combined (add enough milk to make a thick batter).
  4. Fold in apple chunks
  5. Carefully add dough to the oil in heaping tablespoons. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are browned.
  6. Transfer briefly to paper towels to absorb excess oil, then transfer to cooling rack.
  7. Drizzle glaze over the apple fritters while they are still warm. Wait approximately 3 minutes for glaze to harden, then flip fritters and drizzle glaze over the other side. Best served warm. Enjoy!

Scandinavian Almond Cake

Advent is a very special time in our Community.  To me, it symbolizes not only waiting, but also preparation– preparing our hearts and our homes to receive the Christ-Child. We welcome ​Advent with a festive weekend open to the public.  ​One of the highlights is our candlelit service of Advent Lessons and Carols – a service steeped in English tradition. Throughout the weekend, we serve an elegant afternoon tea at Bethany Guest House situated in scenic Rock Harbor, Orleans. This tradition was started by one of our founders, Mother Cay.  She took great pride in entertaining and hospitality, and her sharp and loving eye for beauty and detail has been passed down to all of us.  Bethany becomes a magical place at Christmastime.  Throughout the weekend, our gift shop, Priory Books and Gifts is bustling with activity.  We stock our shop with home baked goods From a Monastery Kitchen – our famous Kentucky Bourbon Cakes, Fresh Baked Cinnamon Rolls, Cranberry Pear Chutney and English Toffee are just a few of the items sold throughout December in our shop.

For years now, it has been my ​responsibility​ to get the Monastic Bakeshop “ready” for Advent.  We start preparing in the summer – sampling recipes, making lists of ingredients and then going to companies to see if they would be able to “gift” items to us. In turn, we offer our prayers on their behalf, as well as a tin of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.  It has been such a blessing to see the response.  Year after year, we have faithful donors that have given of themselves to support our outreach – sugar, flour, oats, chocolate chips, nuts, raisins and yes, even Jim Beam Bourbon, have been generously given to us – enabling a profit of the sales to help support our community.

A few years ago, I became friends with a woman who frequented our bakeshop.  She told me of a wonderful almond cake that I really should try sometime – and perhaps even sell in our shop.  She came back a couple days later with a gift for us – the special Scandinavian Almond Cake pan and recipe.  What a touching gift that was!  This has become one of our favorite cakes to make at Christmas time – or anytime.  We now share it with you.

A blessed Advent to you and yours,

The Gourmet Nuns

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Scandinavian Almond Cake
SERVINGS
8-10people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
40-50min
PREP TIME
10min
READY IN
1hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Generously grease a Scandinavian almond cake pan or rectangular tart pan with removable bottom.​​
  3. ​In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar, egg, almond extract and milk
  4. Add flour and baking powder and mix​ at low speed to blend.​
  5. Add melted butter​ and mix well.​
  6. Pour batter into ​prepared ​pan and bake from ​30-45​ min. or until edges are golden and cake springs back to the touch.
  7. Cool​ cake​​ completely​ in pan before removing​.
  8. Say a prayer and turn the cake out of the pan.​
  9. Sprinkle with ​powdered​​ sugar before serving​​

**Variation – before pouring batter into pan, sprinkle sliced almonds on the bottom (or top of cake)

 

Italian Strawberry Crostata

We’ve been cooking up lots of strawberry jam for Christmas gifts with this summer’s bountiful crop of berries from our garden.  One of our sisters has been dying to make a strawberry tart with it and today she did.

I loved the looks of it when it came out of the oven. I loved the taste of it even more, as did some of the other kitchen sisters who sampled it. The unusual flavor of fresh lemon zested crust was a taste treat in itself even without the filling.

“Leave it right here”, I said “I’ll be back in a minute to take a picture. This has to be a blog!”  Locating the camera as quickly as possible I returned to take this photo…..

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Italian Strawberry Crostata
The pastry for this simple jam tart is made with olive oil and flavored with vanilla, lemon rind and a little alcohol, which makes it tender. It is an easy, smooth dough to handle and does not go hard when stored in the fridge.
SERVINGS
1pie
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
pie
COOK TIME
30mins.
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on a clean surface. Lightly beat together eggs, oil, vanilla, alcohol and rind. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture.
  3. Using your hands, work the flour in gradually to form a dough. Work dough lightly until it comes together into a smooth ball.
  4. Divide dough into 3 pieces. Roll out all pieces to about 1/2 inch thickness. Press 2 of them into the base of 9-10 inch sallow baking pans. Spread each generously with jam.
  5. Cut remaining piece of dough into very thin long strips. Form a ring around edge of dough and make a criss-cross pattern on top of the tarts. Cut tiny diamonds of leftover dough and place into the center of each criss-cross.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly golden.

Notes:

P.S. — We added a few fresh berries on top of the jam the second time we tried it, and felt it added yet another dimension of wonderful flavor.