Category Archives: From our Farmhouse Kitchen

A Taste of Spring!

The first week of spring here in the Smoky Mountains brought us a couple of snowy days, but now that the weather’s warming up, we’re all coming down with severe cases of spring fever. And one of the best cures we know of is cake! So for our last entry for March – which is also National Flour Month – we offer you our Blueberry and Lemon Cornmeal Cake. Lightened with ricotta cheese and brightened with fresh berries and lemon juice, the batter features not only our freshly ground cornmeal, but also Old Mill’s all-purpose Plain Flour. It makes a simple but stunning addition to an Easter buffet or any other spring or summer occasion. Come autumn, you can easily turn this versatile recipe into a holiday cake by substituting fresh cranberries for the blueberries, similar to our Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Cake we offer online. This cake also freezes well, so if you like to do all your baking at one time and give home-baked items to friends and family, this will be a hit!

Blueberry and Lemon Cornmeal Cake

Makes: 12 to 16 servings

Ingredients:

Butter for prepping the pan

2 cups Old Mill Plain Flour

1 cup Old Mill Yellow Cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

7 ounces (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1/4 cup Old Mill Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Grated zest of 1 lemon (1 teaspoon)

Juice of 1 lemon (2 tablespoons)

1 container (15 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese, about 2 cups

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided use

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter, and place the pan on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Place the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, 30 seconds. Add the sugar, and beat on medium until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is incorporated, about 20 seconds each. Add the maple syrup, oil, and the grated lemon zest and juice. Blend on medium speed until well combined, 45 seconds.
  4. Turn about a third of the dry ingredients into the batter and blend on low until just incorporated. Add half of the ricotta cheese and blend. Add another third of dry ingredients and blend, then add the rest of the ricotta, and finally the rest of the dry ingredients, blending just to incorporate. Fold 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries into the batter, and blend on low speed to break up the berries a bit, about 30 seconds. Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter the remaining cup of blueberries on top of the batter, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Place the baking sheet with springform pan in the oven.
  5. Bake until the cake is well browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes. After 1 hour, gently cover the top of the cake with foil to protect it from over-browning. Remove the cake from the oven, and let the cake cool in the pan 20 to 25 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and unfasten the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely before slicing, about 1 hour. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.

 

Sweet Cream Biscuits

A biscuit recipe is like a fingerprint in the South; everybody has their own, so no two are alike! Well, that’s not entirely true. But, Southern cooks will tell you that their biscuit recipe is the best because it’s likely been passed down for generations. The basics of a biscuit are all the same. You take a flour and add some fat and liquid. From there you can add just about anything you want to make it sweet or savory, or maybe you keep it simple and let a slice of country ham or a spoonful of jam or honey add some extra flavor. Biscuits come in all shapes and sizes and are the answer for a quick breakfast to a simple and traditional solution for dessert.

We love just about every variety of biscuit. Flaky buttery layers get us just as excited as a tender biscuit with lots of airy pockets to hold butter. And, they don’t take as long as it may seem to make. Have you ever been intimidated by the thought of making homemade biscuits and resorted to popping open a tube in the past?  (Truth be told, almost all of us saw our grandmother’s do that once or twice! If you never witnessed it, look for a  dent in the edge of the counter in grandma’s kitchen, cause that’s where she would bang the tube against it to get it to burst open.) Well, scratch-made biscuits really don’t take any more time to make, you just may end up with a little flour in places you never intended.

Self-rising flour is a time-saver in this two-ingredient biscuit recipe. The leavening – baking powder – is already in the flour. The cream acts both as the liquid and the fat, making these biscuits rich and flaky. And easy!

Sweet Cream Biscuits

Makes about 14 2-inch biscuits

Prep: 10 minutes

Bake: 10 to 14 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups Old Mill Self-Rising Flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Extra flour as needed for rolling

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and stir to combine. Pour in nearly all the cream, and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together. If needed, add the rest of the cream to get the dough to pull together. It will be sticky.
  3. Sprinkle a work surface with a couple tablespoons flour, and turn the dough out onto the flour. Press with floured hands until the dough is 1-inch thick. Fold one half of the dough over the other like closing a book, then press down to 1-inch again, and cut into 2-inch rounds with a floured biscuit cutter. Press together scraps to make additional biscuits. Place biscuits about an inch apart on baking pans, and place in the oven. Bake until golden brown, from 10 to 14 minutes. Serve warm with butter.

Everything is Coming up Cherries at The Old Mill in February

George Washington’s birthday, the cherry tree, and National Cherry Month are good excuses to bake up an Old-Fashioned Cherry Crumble from The Old Mill. What’s a crumble? Sort of a crisp, except with bigger, crunchier, more crumbly pieces of oat and brown sugar topping. And underneath? Cherries and sugar cooked down to sweet, delicious goodness.

While fresh cherries aren’t in season in February, you can buy them canned or frozen to create this easy dessert. To kick up the fresh cherry flavor, add a quarter cup of dried cherries. It’s a winter pie-baking trick borrowed from the pages of early frontier cooking. Smoky Mountain cooks dried local apples slices and then used the fruit in baking throughout the year. Dried fruit, whether cherries, apples, or peaches, has a powerful flavor, and dried cherries add intensity to this recipe.

It’s the easiest pie on earth – no crust – just a crumbly, crunchy, heavenly mixture of brown sugar, butter, oats and cinnamon on top of the sweet-yet-tart cherries underneath. Serve warm in bowls with vanilla ice cream.

The Old Mill is so crazy about cherries, we are sampling Chocolate Moonshine Cherries the whole month of February at our Distillery. They’re a perfect Valentine’s Day gift! In the Farmhouse, Liz has been baking up fresh Cherry Handpies and we are sampling out a variety of cherry dips,  cherry cobbler in a jar, and even cherry Sweet Fire Pickles. In the Old Mill Restaurant, we’re offering our Chocolate Cherry Moonshine Preserves at breakfast, and at the Candy Kitchen, we’re making a white chocolate bark with, what else? Cherries!

Here is our recipe. And, we cannot tell a lie, this is so good!

Old-Fashioned Cherry Crumble

Makes 8 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 38 to 42 minutes

Ingredients needed for pie:

4 cups pitted sour cherries (see Notes)

1/4 cup dried cherries, if desired (see Notes)

4 to 5 tablespoons granulated sugar

 

Crumble Topping:

3/4 cup Old Mill Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

2 tablespoons  Old Mill Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

1/2 cup Old Mill Thick Table Rolled Oats

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Set aside a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. If you are using our Farmhouse Collection Pie Plate or Pottery Pie Plate, like we do, do not preheat your oven and add about 5 minutes to the baking time.
  2. Drain the cherries and place in a large bowl with dried cherries and sugar. Toss to combine, and set aside.
  3. For the topping, place the flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Or, place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch size pieces and distribute over the top of the bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (Or, if using a food processor, pulse until combined.) Stir in the oats and pecans. Work the mixture with your hands until it comes together into loose pieces. Set aside.
  4. Turn the cherries and any juice that might have seeped from them into the reserved pan. Cover the cherries with the topping, using your hands as needed to distribute it over the top. Place the pan in the oven.
  5. Bake until the crumble is golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the edges, 38 to 42 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool 20 minutes before serving warm in bowls with ice cream.

Notes: If fresh sour cherries are available, by all means, use them in this recipe. If you are baking this out of season, however, you can use canned or frozen, thawed cherries. Drain cherries well. The dried cherries add flavor, and they soften as the crumble bakes.

Cornmeal Snickerdoodles

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2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sugar, divided

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups Old Mill Plain Flour

2 cups Old Mill Plain Unbolted Cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl;  beat at medium speed until creamy.  Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating at low speed just until blended. Beat in vanilla.

Combine Old Mill Plain Flour, Old Mill Plain Unbolted Cornmeal, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon in a large bowl;  whisk to blend.  Add to butter mixture and beat until blended.

Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a shallow dish. Scoop cookie dough, by 1/4 cup, and roll into balls.  Roll in cinnamon sugar mixture and place on baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.  Place in freezer until ready to bake.

Bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes.  Let cool completely on baking sheets on wire racks.

 

Makes 34 cookies