By Jean Graubart, Director of Jewish Living and Learning
I always thought that baking was one of those skills (some say, talents) that skips a generation.
My Ashkanazi grandmother Evelyn made the most delicious pastries stuffed with raisins and cinnamon, which I can still taste so many years later. My Sephardic grandmother Molly, rolled out wonderful biscochos, always found in her oven (she stored them there) for the grandkids to grab.
But my mother burnt Sara Lee, and at best would make a Duncan Hines cake so dry, it only worked with layers of ice cream in the middle and on top, and we thought this was gourmet. Who knew?
I would gather recipes from friends, claiming them as my own and giving them a family history. By making a change or 2, they became my recipe, and have been enjoyed and passed on.
Since it is so terribly hot in the summer, I rarely bake, not wanting to heat the house. But there are exceptions…
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Summer is when we get the best plums, and I love this plum torte.
12 Italian or purple plums halved…if large, quarter (and who says you can’t use green or red plums?)
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (I use parve margarine so we can enjoy this with any meal)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Lemon juice to taste
Cream butter and sugar together
Add eggs and mix well (hand mixing or electric are fine)
Add flour, baking powder and mix to combine
Spoon into a lightly greased pie pan and cover the bottom and a little way up the sides
Place plums, skin side up, on top of batter, all around
Squeeze lemon on top to cover and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon
Bake 350 for an hour.
Cool and serve, warm or next day, with ice cream, whipped cream or plain.
This torte can stay in the refrigerator several days, covered (can heat before serving, though I like it cold)
Freezes very nicely, wrapped tightly. Can defrost on 300 for a few minutes.
My friend has a plum tree and makes this in a square brownie pan with the plums cut up and mixed in. Since that has worked so well and the cake is so easy to make with 1 bowl only, we have made it with other fruits.
It is great (pie style) with apples or pears on top for Rosh Hashanah.
For more summer treats, use peaches on top if you have a basket from the farm waiting to be used.
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When I was in graduate school, I tasted this delicious strudel which I never thought I could duplicate, but then realized how easy it was. Why is it summer food? The main ingredient is ice cream!
Ice Cream Strudel
2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 pound sweet butter
1/2 pint strawberry, peach or any fruit flavored ice cream (I have used vanilla too) – very soft, almost melted
Blend and refrigerate above over night.
Preheat oven to 325.
Divide into 4 balls and roll in rectangle on floured table (can use powdered sugar instead).
Spread with jam, nuts, raisins, coconut, cinnamon and sugar (Use whatever you like: currants, raisins, mini chocolate chips).
Roll up like a jelly roll, and cut ¾” apart, and ¾ of the way through (seam side down).
Bake at 325 for 30 minutes on greased cookie sheet, seam side down.
When cooled and ready to serve, cut all the way through and put in cupcake holders and freeze in a cookie tin or serve and enjoy with iced tea.
So when those fruity ice cream flavors tempt you, have a bowlful and then prepare this rich and lovely dough.
This is a great dough! You can do anything with it. (It also makes a great dough to cover apples in apple dumplings or baked apples.)
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Yes, summertime and the livin’ is easy, the salads are tasty and the fruit is delicious.
These treats help to balance out the calories and are truly good all year. They are easy, different and a pleasure to share at a picnic or BBQ.
Want to check out past recipes from Jean? Click here!