Black Raspberry Jam Tea Cakes

It has been a fairly mild winter in New England, so mild that I can count the number of times I’ve needed to turn on my heat on one hand. It also helps that I’ve been in a bit of a baking frenzy, and somehow managed to turn a small corner of my kitchen into my office.

All it really takes is a spark of curiosity, and before I know it I’m buried in a new cookbook with a notebook and pen in hand and my laptop less than an arm’s length away. And sometimes my experiments work out well, like these mini cakes — a perfect treat for a mid-morning coffee break.

Mini Black Raspberry Jam Tea Cakes

Adapted From: The Best Quick Breads by Beth Hensperger
Makes: 8 mini loaves, or 12 muffins
Oven: 350 degrees
Baking time: Approximately 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 – 2/3 cup black raspberry jam, preferably with seeds
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your mini loaf pan, or muffin tin.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, almond extract, and butter. Carefully add this mixture to the dry ingredients and beat until the batter becomes smooth and fluffy.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Cover each loaf, or muffin, with spoonfuls of the jam, dotting it over the surface of the batter. Insert a butter knife straight into the batter and gently swirl a few times to distribute the jam slightly through the batter.

Bake in the center of the oven until a cake tester inserted into the cakes comes out clean, about 20 min. Rotate your pan halfway through.

Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cakes and place them on a cooling rack. Sift the powder sugar over the top of the cakes.

The cakes can — and should — be served immediately.

Additional notes:
Because I had some extra buttermilk to use up, and the first batch went so well, I decided to make a second batch using some chocolate hazelnut spread I had hanging out in my cupboard. While this was a little bit more difficult to distribute through the cakes, the flavor was exactly what I had been looking for — warm, chocolatey, and not too sweet.

What jam, or other spread, flavor do you want to try in this recipe?

Vegan Carrot-Apple Bread

When coming up with my first swap contribution, there were a few key elements that I wanted to make sure were involved. I wanted to use seasonal and local produce and keep it as simple and healthy as possible. In this case, it was 3 very brown bananas and some leftover organic carrots and apples.

Fair warning: I kind of made this recipe up on my own based on a basic banana bread recipe. Recreate at your own risk.

Vegan Carrot-Apple Bread

Makes: 6 – 8 mini loaves (3” x 5” foil pans worked well)
Oven: 350 degrees
Cooking time: Approximately 40 minutes

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 cups flour (I prefer a mix of half whole wheat and half unbleached white flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
1 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
2 medium apples, grated
3 medium carrots, grated

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. If the mixture is too “dry”, feel free to add some unsweetened applesauce until it becomes “batter-like”.

Carefully spoon the batter into the loaf pans, until about 2/3 full but no more than 3/4 full.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean. To be safe, I checked at the 20 minute mark, then at 5-10 minute intervals until done.

Additional Notes:
The bread did come out a bit “sticky” on top, but that can be attributed to the vegan nature of the recipe. Stickiness aside, the bread was a success as all six loaves were swapped rather quickly.

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