• Sweet Buns with Plum Jam (Buhtle)

    A version of this column originally appeared in Sweet Paul Magazine, Fall 2016 issue.


    In between high school and college, I had the privilege to study abroad for a year as an exchange student in Yugoslavia. I lived in a small town in Bosnia, back before the war when Yugoslavia still existed tenuously as a united country. Since I had already graduated from high school, my academic studies were not rigorous. However, the life lessons I learned, and the paths I started down in Yugoslavia have been fundamental to where I am today.

    My host family (Mama, Tata and my sister, Sladjana) lived in a house on the edge of our small town with a yard full of produce and fruit trees. We raised chickens and pigs and my Mama cooked everything we ate. She spoke only a few words of English, so it was quite a while before we could have deep conversations. Though my understanding started small, she spoke to me often, encouraging me to listen and learn and laughing with me when we couldn’t quite make sense of each other.

    Our meals and tasks at home were seasonal. In the spring we got chicks that we kept warm in a box in the garage. A few months later, all the neighbor women got together to help with the slaughtering. Similarly in the fall, the neighborhood came together for the pig slaughter. And around the same time, my host mother taught me to mill the plums from our trees to make plum jam. This thick, sticky jam was stored in our pantry and we would spread it inside warm palacinka (crepe like pancakes) and Mama would use it to fill sweet buns, called buhtle, for parties.

    Today I farm with my wife and friends. As I did in Yugoslavia, we live very seasonally and food BG0A1201preservation is a cornerstone of my life. I stay in touch with my Yugoslav family through my host sister. Tata passed away last year, and I wish that I could see Mama, hug her and laugh together. By sharing her life with me, she has given me
    one of the best gifts – the love of preserving and cooking seasonally, and the importance of staying connected to the land.

    Mama’s Plum Jam
    Yield: Approximately 3 pints

    4 ½ pounds very ripe plums
    2 cups water
    5 cups sugar
    pinch of salt
    juice of 1 lemon

    1. Remove pits from the plums and cut into chunks. Or if you have a food mill like Mama, use it!
    1. Combine the plums and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
    1. Add the sugar and salt to the pan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and  boil, stirring occasionally, for 25-45 minutes or until the jam is thick and dark. Stir in lemon juice.
    1. Cool and use to fill sweet buns or cookies or spread on toast. Or if canning, ladle into prepared 8 ounce jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.



    Sweet Buns with Plum Jam (Buhtle)

    1 pkt active dry yeast
    1/2 cup lukewarm milk
    3 cups (500 g) flour plus more for rolling
    1/3 cup (80 g) sugar
    ½ teaspoon salt
    zest of 1 lemon
    1 egg
    2 egg yolks
    1/3 cup lukewarm water
    1 cup plum jam
    Butter or oil for coating buns and baking tray
    Powdered sugar for sprinkling

    1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with the warm milk and set aside to allow yeast to activate.
    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add the yeast mixture along with the eggs and water.
    1. Using the paddle attachment, mix the dough rapidly for a few minutes until a ball forms. The dough will be sticky.
    1. Cover bowl with a towel and leave in a warm place about 40 minutes to rise.
    1. Dust your work surface generously with flour and roll out dough to ½ inch thick. Cut into 16 rectangles and put 1 Tablespoon of plum jam on each.
    1. Pinch each rectangle around the filling and form into a ball making sure that it is tightly closed.
    1. Dip or brush each ball on all sides with melted butter or oil.
    1. Place them in a greased square pan and allow to rise for another 15 minutes. During this time, heat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
    1. Bake buns in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.
    1. Serve warm and sugared.


  • Rhubarb Vanilla Sponge Cake

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    A version of this post first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Sweet Paul Magazine.

    Happy five year anniversary to Sweet Paul! What a beautiful five years it’s been. And Spring is a wonderful season in which to celebrate.

    When Paul told me this was the anniversary issue, I naturally wanted to bake a cake – a fruit filled cake of course. And since this column is all about preserving the seasons I set out to create a jam worthy of a Sweet Paul celebration.

    Rhubarb is one of my Spring favorites. Botanically a vegetable, rhubarb breaks the canning rule thatvegetables are low acid foods by being almost as acidic as citrus. As it cooks down this jam turns a brilliant shade of pink, the apples, sugar and vanilla add sweet and sultry notes, and the salt brings out the acidity. A rule breaker jam that’s beautiful, tangy and sweet – sounds like Paul to me!

    Of course, you can enjoy this jam in a multitude of ways from topping toast to pairing with pork (Paul’s suggestion), and it is just sublime in an almond sponge cake with dark chocolate coconut ganache. See the full recipe for the jam and cake below.

    Vanilla Rhubarb Jam
    4 medium apples, peeled
    7 cups diced rhubarb
    1 ½ cups sugar
    1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
    ¼ teaspoon salt

    Core and finely chop or puree apples. In a wide saucepan, mix with rhubarb, sugar, vanilla and salt.

    Cook over medium heat until the jam is thickened and starts to appear dry, about 20 minutes.

    Cool jam and refrigerate. Or, to can the jam, pour it into warm, clean jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

    Almond Sponge Cake
    Yields 3 6-inch pans, 2 9-inch pans, or one bundt pan.

    1/3 cup cold waterAlmond Cake with Vanilla Rhubarb Jam
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    zest of 1 lemon

    1 cup almond flour
    ½ cup millet flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon salt

    6 eggs, separated
    1 ½ cups sugar, separated

    Heat oven to 350˚F.

    Grease and flour pans.

    In a small bowl, mix together the water, vanilla, lemon juice and zest and set aside.

    in a separate bowl, sift the flours together with the baking powder and salt.

    In a third large bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1 cup of the sugar until pale and fluffy.

    Statring with the wet ingredients, stir the wet and dry ingredients into yolk mixture in stages, starting and ending with wet.

    Beat the egg whites until stiff with ½ cup of the sugar.

    Fold some whites into the yolk mixture and then add that mixture to the remaining whites.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pans, tapping the pans to level them and bring any large bubbles to the surface.

    Bake the cakes at 350˚ for 30 to 40 minutes or until the center of the cake just springs back to the touch.

    Dark Chocolate Coconut Ganache
    14 ounces good quality dark chocolate bar chopped in small chunks or chips
    1 – 13.5 oz can coconut milkAlmond Cake with Rhubarb Jam and Chocolate Ganache
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    pinch sea salt

    Put chocolate in a large heat safe bowl.

    Bring coconut milk just to a boil and pour over chocolate. Allow milk and chocolate to sit for about two minutes and then stir together.

    Stir the milk and chocolate together until very smooth. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

    Allow the ganache to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before glazing the cake.

    Photography by Paul Lowe.

  • Peach Hand Pies

    An alternate version of this post originally appeared in Sweet Paul Magazine.

    Peach Hand PiesStone fruit season is a special time of year – when plums, nectarines, and peaches call out from farmers market stands and beg to be eaten out of hand with juice dripping down my chin. There really is no substitute for a fresh local peach. So while they are in season, I encourage you to eat as many as you can. And when you’ve had your fill, preserve the rest. Or, as they say, “Eat what you can, and what you can’t, can.”

    While I was living in Santa Cruz, California, I worked with Erin Justus Lampel, the talented baker behind Companion Bakeshop, to host a jam making and canning class at the bakery. Bread and jam are an obvious and delicious pairing. I developed a couple of recipes for the class and these Spiced Peach Preserves were my favorite. Simple and straightforward, they take the deliciousness of the peaches and dress them up to taste like pie in a jar. They are sweet and tangy and lightly spiced. Spread them on bread to liven up your morning toast, or use, like I did, as a pie filling to remind you of those glory days of fresh stone fruit season after they have gone.

    To make things a little more fun (and to make a little bit of preserves go further), I decided to make hand pies. Traveling as a young photo assistant in the South, hand made hand pies were a seldom and sought after treat at small gas stations along the blue highways. Those little pies were the perfect vessel for an assortment of fruit fillings, and a welcome sweet treat as we continued on our journeys.

    I don’t eat wheat or dairy anymore, and I took it as a personal challenge to create a hand pie I would be happy to eat. You can use any basic pie dough recipe to create these pies; for the gluten and dairy free version shown here, see the recipe below:

    Hand pie dough
    -Yields approximately 10 4-inch pies-

    I tested these hand pies with vegetable shortening and duck fat. If you can get your hands on duck fat, I highly recommend it to the alternative. The duck fat pies are tastier, flakier, and more tender.

    ½ cup brown rice flour
    ½ cup millet flour
    ½ cup sorghum flour
    ½ cup potato starch
    ½ cup tapioca starch
    ¼ cup sugar
    2 teaspoons xantham gum
    ½ teaspoon salt
    4 ounces (8 Tablespoons) duck fat or vegetable shortening
    2 eggs, beaten
    2 – 4 Tablespoons ice water
    1 ½ – 2 cups Spiced Peach Preserves (recipe below)
    1 egg white, beaten
    sugar for topping

    1. Sift together all of the dry ingredients.
    2. Using your fingers or a pastry knife, quickly cut fat or shortening into the flour mix until it resembles course sand.
    3. Gently mix eggs into the sandy mixture and form the dough into a ball.
    4. Add 2 to 4 Tablespoons of ice water until the dough comes together and is slightly tacky.
    5. Form dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
    6. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
    7. Divide chilled dough into ten equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, keep the remaining pieces refrigerated.
    8. Form each piece into a flat disk and then roll into a 4 – 5 inch round, leaving the dough about ¼ inch thick.
    9. Spoon 2 -3 Tablespoons of preserves into the center of the round, fold in half and crimp edges. Repeat with remaining pieces.
    10. Brush the tops of each pie with egg whites and sprinkle with sugar.
    11. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in the top of each pie to vent steam.
    12. Bake pies on a lined baking sheet for 15 minutes. Rotate the tray and bake for 10 minutes more.
    13. Remove from oven, cool and enjoy!

    Spiced Peach Preserves
    Spiced Peach Preserves
    -Yields approximately 5 8oz jars-

    6 cups peeled and chopped peaches
    3 cups sugar
    2 Tablespoons lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1. Prepare waterbath canner, jars and lids.
    2. Heat all ingredients together in a heavy pan on medium heat until the fruit starts to give up liquid.
    3. Turn heat up to high and cook mixture, stirring consistently to prevent burning.
    4. Cook preserves until they thicken and test how they gel using the chilled plate test. Do this test by chilling a plate in the refrigerator. Drop the preserves on the chilled plate and see if you can run your finger through them leaving a line in the center of the preserves that doesn’t seep back together. If your line holds, your preserves are ready. If it doesn’t, continue cooking and test again in a few minutes.
    5. Remove the preserves from heat and skim off any foam.
    6. Ladle the preserves into warm canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims. Apply lids and bands and adjust to fingertip tight.
    7. Process jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
    8. Cool jars and check them for a proper seal.
    9. Enjoy!

    Click here for a printable version of the recipes.

  • Boozy Pickled Cherries


    It’s cherry season! Go get them while you can.

    Pickled cherries are one of my favorite pickles. So much so that I created a Sweet Paul column for them last Summer at about this time.

    I was reminded recently that in one of my workshops I had promised a recipe for Spirited Cherries. It is a recipe I taught years ago for Ball at a farmers market in Connecticut. I would make all kinds of recipes in the Ball tent – getting market goers to participate and learn how to can. I went through many different recipes during that job, many of them new to me. It was a great way to expose myself to a bunch of different canning recipes and to find out what worked, what I liked, and what I didn’t, and hear what other people thought of the recipes. Participants often went home with a jar, and I would give extras to market workers and vendors who had supplied us with produce. But I always kept one jar for myself to see the results at some later date at home.

    These jars served me well in other classes – I often brought them along to show how a proper seal on a jar should look. And every so often, when it pertained to the subject matter, we would open a jar and taste it. We opened the Spirited Cherries during a Canning for Cocktails class I was teaching at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Lucky for y’all, Andrea was persistent about that promised recipe, and I’m finally getting it to you here – just in time for seasonal cherries.

    Like I said, go get ’em!

  • Celebrate Spring with Pickled Eggs!


    Whether you celebrate Easter, Passover, or the sprouting of the daffodils, colorful eggs seem so appropriate at this time of year. Create beautiful little flavor bombs with this recipe from our One For the Season column in the Spring issue of Sweet Paul Magazine. And add some zing to your Sunday brunch this weekend!