Ultimate Crumb Brownies

Ultimate Crumb Brownies | Bakewell Junction

Ultimate Crumb Brownies | Bakewell Junction

Hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day.  My family came over for dinner yesterday and I made these yummy brownies.  I would have had a photo of the entire baked recipe but my brother-in-law grabbed some of the crumbs from one end of brownies.

Since everyone loves cake crumbs (at least I think everyone does), I decided to incorporate them into my favorite brownie mix.  I used half the crumb recipe from my Sour Cream Coffee Ultimate Crumb Cake and it turned out wonderfully.  There is some brownie at the bottom of those crumbs.

What did you do this Mother’s Day?  Did you make or do anything special?

Ultimate Crumb Brownies | Bakewell Junction

Ultimate Crumb Brownies

Yield:  12 brownies                 Cook Time:  45 minutes



  • 1 package of your favorite brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli)


  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 1 – 2 tablespoons powdered sugar for sprinkling


Step 1:  For the batter:  Prepare the brownie mix as described on the package.  Transfer the batter to an 8 by 8 inch pan lined with parchment paper.  Spread evenly in the pan.  Begin baking in a preheated 325 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Step 2:  For the crumbs:  while the brownies are baking, mix together all the ingredients for the crumbs with a fork to start.  Finish mixing with fingers.  There should be large crumbs.  After the brownies bake for 20 minutes, remove the brownie pan from the oven and sprinkle the crumbs evenly across the top of the brownies.  The weight of the crumbs will flatten the brownies somewhat.  Return to the oven.

Step 3:  Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake on a higher rack for another 20 – 25 minutes.  The crumbs will brown ever so slightly.  Cool in the pan on a rack for at least 20 minutes.  Use the parchment paper to help remove the brownies from the pan and cool completely on a rack.  Transfer the brownies onto a serving tray and sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.  Cut into 2 to 2 inch squares and eat.


Crumb recipe from a co-worker.

Tips:  Store in an airtight container.

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Orange and Almond Quick Bread #TwelveLoaves

Orange Almond Quick Bread | Bakewell Junction

Orange Almond Quick Bread | Bakewell Junction

Another busy week and April’s almost gone.  I can’t miss this month’s #TwelveLoaves party but I don’t usually make breads with orange.  I was so happy to find this quick and easy recipe to share with you.

Hope you’re ready for another Italian style recipe.  This recipe is a dense and delicious.  You can have it for breakfast or dessert.

Orange Almond Quick Bread 2 | Bakewell Junction Orange and Almond Quick Bread

Yield:  1 loaf                 Cook Time:  50 minutes



  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar, room temperature or softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup ground blanched almonds (I measured 3/4 cup silvered blanched almonds and then chopped finely in my mini chopper)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (I substituted dried orange peel)
  • 1/2 cup milk


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 to 6 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange flavoring


Step 1:  For the batter:  Sift together flour baking powder, salt and flour in a medium bowl and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar together until light and creamy; about 1 to 2 minutes.  I beat on high using my hand-held mixer.  Add eggs one at a time beating to combine after each one.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed.

Step 2:  Mix in the almonds and orange zest until combined.  Fold in half the flour mixture.  Fold in the milk.  Fold in the remaining flour mixture until just combined.  Transfer the batter to a greased or parchment lined 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with a spoon.  I usually like to use parchment paper but this time I used cooking spray.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50.  Test with a toothpick; toothpick will be clean when done.  Let cool 5 to 10 minutes in the pan.  Remove from pan and cool completely on a rack.

Step 3:  For the glaze:  Mix the powdered sugar, orange flavoring and 3 teaspoons water together with a fork.  Add additional water in small increments until desired consistency is reached.  I used all six teaspoons.  Drizzle across the top the loaf.  Slice and serve.


Recipe adapted from Italian Dessert Recipes.

Tips:  Store in an airtight container.

Here is our fantastic April-Oranges breads from the incredible #TwelveLoaves bakers:

#TwelveLoaves April: Oranges. The month of March was filled with gorgeous strawberry breads!  We have chosen ORANGES for our April theme!  Choose a recipe including oranges.  Your bread of choice recipe must include in the recipe:  oranges, orange marmalade, orange zest.  In addition to being in the dough, it could also be added to a glaze.  Whatever you bake, (yeasted, quick bread, crackers, muffins, braids, flatbreads, etc) have fun and let’s have a delicious month of bread with ORANGES. Let’s get baking!

If you’d like to add your bread to the collection with the Linky Tool this month, here’s what you need to do!

1. When you post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your blog post; this helps us to get more members as well as share everyone’s posts.  Please make sure that your bread is inspired by the theme!

2. Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of my blog.  It must be a bread baked to the Twelve Loaves theme.

3. Have your Twelve Loaves bread that you baked this April, 2014, and posted on your blog by April 30, 2014.

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess. #TwelveLoaves runs so smoothly thanks to the help of the lovely Renee from Magnolia Days and Heather from girlichef.

You are next… Click here to enter

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St. Joseph’s Pastry (Sfinge)

St Joseph's Pastry (Sfinge) | Bakewell Junction  Delicious Italian Pastry that's traditionally made March 19th through Easter.

St Joseph’s Pastry (Sfinge) | Bakewell Junction

Happy Easter!  The day is almost over but I wanted to share this lovely recipe with you.  This pastry can be found at any Italian bakery throughout NY city and the surrounding suburbs on beginning on March 19th for the feast of Saint Joseph’s and usually through Easter.

The filling for the sfinge is either Cannoli Cream or a pastry crème that’s similar to a custard.  It can be vanilla or almond flavored but my family and I favor Cannoli Cream, so that’s what I made.  The shells are fried most of the time but I’ve seen them baked and I opted for baking to gain a small amount of health benefit.

At first I wasn’t happy with the results of the shells because they weren’t as tall as I thought they should be but they turned out to be quite delicious when filled.  My instructions will include details about how to get a better result.

For Palm Sunday and Easter this year I made my Easter Bread (one batch for Palm Sunday and one for Easter) and Chocolate Babka in addition to these sfinge.  What special Easter recipes did you make this year?

St Joseph's Pastry (Sfinge) | Bakewell Junction

St. Joseph’s Pastry (Sfinge)

Yield:  48 pastries                 Cook Time:  20 minutes



  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons lard (I used all butter)
  • 6 large eggs

Cannoli Cream Filling:

  • 2 lb container Polly-O ricotta cheese, drained overnight in a 2-ply cheesecloth (it drains best at room temperature, provided it’s cooler than 70 degrees)
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2/3 c mini chocolate chips; plus some additional for garnish


  • powdered sugar for sprinkling
  • Maraschino Cherries (optional; I didn’t use these)


Step 1:  For the filling: at least three days before serving, mix drained ricotta, vanilla and sugar together.  Move the mixture to a food processor (I used a small Kitchen Aid chopper) and mix until the filling is smooth and is the right consistency.  Depending on the size of your food processor or chopper, you may need to mix in small batches.

Step 2:  Fold in the mini chocolate chips, cover loosely and store at least overnight (better yet two nights) in the refrigerator.  When ready to fill, transfer the filling to a gallon size Ziploc bag make a 1/2 inch cut on one corner of the Ziploc bag.  Use as a pastry bag to fill the chocolate chip cookie cups.

Step 3:  For the dough:  Mix the flour, salt and baking soda in medium bowl; set aside.  In a large saucepan or small stock pot, heat the water, butter and lard.  Let the mixture come to a boil and then remove the pot from the heat.  Add all the flour mixture at once and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until incorporated.  Return the pot to a medium to high heat for about 5 minutes while still mixing continuously; this will dry out the mixture and the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Remove the dough from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat into the dough to combine before repeating with the remaining eggs.

Step 4:  Using a pastry bag with a 1/2 plain nozzle (I substitute a Ziploc bag with 1/2 inch snipped off the corner), pipe 2 inch shells in circles onto a parchment lined (or greased and floured) cookie sheet and about 1 inch high, leaving 1/2 inch between each.  Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes until golden.  Repeat with the remaining dough until finished.  Cut a slit in the side of the shells so the insides don’t become soggy.  Transfer the shells to cooling racks.

Step 5:  For the assembly:  cut the tops from the shells and pipe the Cannoli Filling using a Ziploc bag with at least a 1/2 inch opening (so the chocolate chips don’t get stuck) into the center of the shell.  About 2 tablespoons depending on the size of the shell.  Top with the top of the shell and then add a small amount on the top of the shell.  Add a maraschino cherry if using and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with Espresso or coffee.


Recipe adapted from Ciao Italia by Mary Ann Esposito.

Tips:  Store assembled pastries in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.  The shells can be frozen in airtight Ziploc bags and then assembled at a later date.

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This post is dedicated to the assembly of the Manicotti which has always been my Mother’s favorite pasta.  The previous two posts give you some information for the components of the Manicotti.  This one will give the rest of the information.

What about the gravy?  You can use a meat gravy or a meatless gravy (Marinara) to make the Manicotti.  It is delicious either way.  This time I used meatless gravy.

Do you call it gravy or pasta sauce or something else?  My family always called it gravy.  When I refer to gravy as anything else, it’s simply to ensure that I’m being clear.


Mix the ricotta and the grated cheese.

Prepare the pan with the gravy layer.

Start filling the crepe and folding.

Start placing the first row of filled crepes in the pan.

First layer of filled crepes.

First completed layer with the gravy, then the sprinkled grated cheese and then the mozzarella strips.  Try not to eat too many of the mozzarella strips as you work.  This is definitely difficult when using fresh homemade mozzarella.

Second layer of filled crepes.

Second completed layer with the gravy, then the sprinkled grated cheese and then the mozzarella strips.  Ready for the oven.

Ready to eat.



  • 3 lb. container ricotta cheese (I used the Biazzo brand but I also like Polly –O; if you have a local Italian deli that makes their own ricotta, that would make this recipe that much more tasty but it’s a pricy option)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated cheese (I use Pecorino Romano); plus more for sprinkling on the layers
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons milk or more, as necessary (I didn’t need any)
  • 1/2 – 1 recipe meatless gravy (Marinara sauce; can also substitute meat gravy)
  • 1 recipe crepes
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs. mozzarella cut into thin strips (Biazzo or Bellgioso brands are good; I used my husband’s homemade mozzarella; if you have a local Italian deli, you can also use their fresh mozzarella)


Step 1:  In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, grated cheese and some milk, if the mixture seems too dry and difficult to work with (use a little milk as possible – you don’t want this to become soupy).  The easiest way to get all the ricotta out of the container is to invert it into the bowl and squeeze the sides until it slides out in one whole piece.  If that doesn’t work, use a silicone spatula to extract the ricotta while scraping the sides of the container.

Step 2:  To set up for assembly:  Position a half-size aluminum steam table tray in front of you.  Place the gravy in a large bowl further away from you in front of you and on the far side of the empty aluminum tray.  Place the crepes the left side of the tray and the ricotta mixture on the right side of the tray.

Step 3:  Using a wooden spoon, spoon some gravy into the aluminum pan (several tablespoons) and spread a thin layer across the bottom of the pan.  Take a crepe in your left hand and spoon approximately 2 to 4 tablespoons across the center of the crepe in a wide strip from left to right.  Fold the edge of the crepe closest to you across the strip of ricotta and then fold the edge of the crepe farthest from you across the first fold ensuring the crepe is taut and overlaps the first fold.  Place the filled crepe folded side down in the lower left corner of the pan.  Repeat for the next four crepes, placing each filled crepe next to the prior crepe so you have one row of 5 filled crepes.  Create another row of five filled crepes on the right side of the pan.

Step 4:  With a wooden spoon, spoon gravy onto the filled crepes (several tablespoons) and spread a thin layer across them.  Sprinkle grated cheese across the top of the gravy layer.  Place mozzarella pieces across each Manicotti.  I place three small pieces on each.

Step 5:  Repeat the above steps to create a second layer.  This will give you twenty in one pan.  Cover the pan very loosely with aluminum foil, so that when it cooks the mozzarella doesn’t stick to the aluminum foil.  The pan will be heavy and you’ll need to support it from the bottom due to the weight.  You can store this in the refrigerator for a day or so.  This way you only have to bake it on the day you want to serve it.  You can also bake these in one layer by using a second pan.

Step 6:  You’ll likely have some extra crepes, so you’ll need to use another smaller pan for the remaining 1 to 5 crepes.

Step 7:  Place the filled Manicotti trays in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake covered for about an hour.  Remove the aluminum foil cover and bake for another 20 minutes to crisp up the mozzarella and ensure the Manicotti are heated through.

Step 8:  Let the Manicotti rest for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.  The first Manicotti served may be difficult to extract from the pan.  I usually serve two per person, since they are double stacked.  If someone wants only one, I cut the Manicotti in half, so they get two halves instead on one whole one.

Options:  You can add some optional items to the ricotta filling to change it up a bit.  For example, you could add a couple of tablespoons of parsley flakes or a 10 ounce defrosted and drained chopped spinach.  I like these options but, since I had children to serve, I didn’t use them the last time I made these because children don’t usually like to eat green leaves mixed in with their food.

To store the Manicotti:  Place in the refrigerator for a day or two before baking.  For longer term storage place plastic wrap beneath the aluminum foil and then place the entire tray in a supermarket shopping bag and then another shopping bag with the opening opposite from the first bag before placing in the freezer.  Defrost in the refrigerator completely before baking.


My family recipe.