Apple Yogurt Cake + 5 Quick Cake Links!

ayc1252An apple a day keeps whatever ails you away.  A good red wine, chocolate anything, salty something, cold beer and cupcakes also help..me.  Apples are abundant now and I can’t get enough of them.  I eat one everyday after lunch, as well as, whatever slices the kids leave behind.  In an effort to consume as many apples as possible before they go out of season, I added them to a traditional yogurt cake.

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I tore the original cake recipe out of a Bon Appétit magazine almost 4 years ago and taped it inside my little black book recipe book.  (Before Pinterest or this blog I used a pen, a real pen, and wrote down recipes in a little black notebook. Crazy, I know.)  I made the original cake a few times, mainly because my daughter requested it.  She calls it the plain cake which is a perfect description.  Plain and simple.  Perfectly moist and the just right kind of sweet.  So, why mess with a good thing?

The damn apples were begging me to use them.  On this cake…with some raw sugar sprinkled on top.  A little cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and lemon zest season the deliciously basic batter.  Oh and lets not forget about the Greek yogurt.  I couldn’t taste it, but knowing it’s in there made me feel healthy.  Really, it’s ok to have a third piece of cake.  The 3/4 cups of whole milk Greek yogurt, that’s protein girl!  Eat up!

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So I did.  Or we did.  Either way, the cake was gone in less than 48 hours.  I call that a hit.  Enjoy!

Apple Yogurt Cake

serves 8

recipe adapted from Bon Appétit June 2012

Ingredients:

1+ 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup sugar  (The original recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar.  If you prefer a sweeter cake add 1 cup of sugar.  The 3/4 cup of sugar made the cake plenty sweet.  It’s really up to you!)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

3/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 baking apple of your choice, sliced thin

1/4 cup raw sugar to sprinkle on sliced apples

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Spray a standard loaf pan with non-stick vegetable oil spray.  Dust with flour and tap out the excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, kosher salt.  Set aside.  In a large bowl rub sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar feels like damp sand.  Add Greek yogurt, canola oil, eggs and vanilla extract.  Whisk until well blended.  Fold in dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth over the top.  Add sliced apples, pushing them just slightly into the batter so they will stick.  Arrange apple in a pattern or something pretty.  Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing the cake.  Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Slice and serve.  Cake will last stored in an air-tight container or covered in plastic wrap, at room temperature,  for up to 3 days.  Enjoy!

5 Quick Cake Links!

Looking for an easy lemon cake recipe? Head to Willow Bird Baking for Julie’s quick lemon-iced yellow cake.  I really wish this cake would just appear on my kitchen counter.  Magic!

Chocolate cake in the less than an hour? Sounds great.  NYT has the recipe for you.

Apple cider doughnut cake? Yes, it exists! Katie at the Kitchen Door has the mouth-watering recipe for you.

Cake or quick bread? Why decide? Make one that tastes like both!  Head to Not Without Salt for Ashley’s chopped apple cake recipe.

Cranberry season is on the way.  Check out my cranberry maple breakfast cake: a cake that is delicious anytime of day.

Oven-Roasted Nectarine Cakes + 5 Nectarine Recipes!

 

rnc1022dThe temperature dropped just slightly in the Boston area, so I turned on my oven.  Time to measure, sift and whisk.  Time for some flour on  the counter, maybe some in my hair; softened butter, room temperature eggs and sugar, lots of it.  Time to mix it up until just combined.  Time to bake.  My hiatus from baking left me wandering and unsatisfied.  I made ice cream, fruit crisps, cold Israeli cous cous salads and Alice Water’s potato salad.  I utilize the veggies from weekly CSA as if the end of days were near.  And yet, something was missing: my oven.

When I came across these beauties at the market, I knew they required more than just a crisp or cobbler.  They deserved to be nestled in a butter and sugar batter.  Showered with raw sugar; baked until they turned into delicate crumbed butter and sugar cakes, all just the size of a 6 ounce ramekins, a sweet and personal treat.

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Baking with Julia provided the inspiration and I ran with it.  I swapped out the plums for nectarines, orange zest for lime zest and added a healthy sprinkling of raw sugar.  Twenty-five minutes later these sweet little nectarine cakes were ready for us to eat.

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We ate them without the addition of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream; they were delicious.  The nectarine caramelized just slightly.  The cake was delicate and light with an unexpected, slight tartness from the lime.  When I make them again, I’ll add a dollop of unsweetened whip cream and maybe a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.  A creamy, cold liquid is a great way to ensure every last crumb is scooped up.

Oven-Roasted Nectarine Cakes

Serves 8

Recipe adapted from Baking with Julia’s Oven Roasted Plum Cakes

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons, packed, light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon lime zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup buttermilk

6 large nectarines, halved and pitted

1/4 cup raw sugar for sprinkling

Cooking spray or melted butter for coating ramekins

Special Equipment: 8 ramekins

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly coat the inside of the ramekins with cooking spray or melted butter. Place them on a baking sheet and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a few more minutes.  Add one egg and beat on high until the egg is incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl and add the second egg.  Beat until incorporated, about 30 more seconds.  Add lime zest and vanilla extract and continue to beat on high for another minute.

Lower the speed of your mixer and add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and mix for less than a minute. Stop the mixer and finish combining the ingredients with a spatula. Do not over mix!

Assembly

Drop about 2 tablespoons of cake batter into each ramekin. Place half of a nectarine, cut side up, into each ramekin. Push down just a little. You don’t want the cake to rise over the nectarine, although some of mine did.  Sprinkle a bit of raw sugar on each nectarine.  Place ramekins on baking sheet and put on the center rack of your oven.  Bake from about 25 minutes, but start checking them at 20 minutes. When the cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, they are ready. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the ramekins for 10 minutes.

Once cool, run a butter knife around the edge of the cake. Lift the cakes out with a small spatula or butter knife. You want to keep them right side up. If this seems too hard, turn the ramekins upside down, lightly tap out the cakes and then place the cakes right side up. Serve the cakes warm or at room temperature. A little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream is a great addition to these cakes, but not necessary. Enjoy!

**Cakes can be kept for up to a day stored at room temperature in an air-tight container.**

Don’t let summer pass without checking out these 5 fantastic nectarine recipes!

Looking for fresh twist on a tart or buckle recipe? Head to Smitten Kitchen for Deb’s nectarine brown butter buckle or nectarine, mascarpone gingersnap tart.  Yum!

Martha’s nectarine cupcakes are on my must make list.

If it’s just too hot to turn on the oven, how about making nectarine ice cream?

If you want an interesting twist on your next caprese salad, head to Shutterbean for Tracy’s nectarine caprese salad.  This looks like summer!

Angel Food Cake Delight + 5 Retro Cakes for Spring!

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I turned to Betty Crocker for inspiration this week.  Every so often I find myself leafing through my Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, the cookbook my grandmother gave me after Bubba and I married.  “You’ll need this, it has everything.” she promised.  At first glance, I judged the cookbook for its lack of “healthy” recipes, horrible food photography and sexist illustrations of family life.  I tucked it away in our bookcase with the plan of donating it.  Years passed, but Betty remained on our book shelf.  I couldn’t part with her.  This dated, meant for “home-makers” cookbook gave me a glimpse of a time before social media, mommy wars, barre and kale smoothies, quinoa and hemp seeds.  As much as the Mad Men era illustrations of mom in heels baking a cake with 2 kids underfoot and Dad in a suit sampling her hard work with a smug look on his face enraged me, I couldn’t help but notice the common ground across generations.  Women ministering to their loved ones by making delicious food.  Homemaker or not, food is love, it was then and it still is today.

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Angel Food Cake Delight     

Light and airy angel food cake filled with honey whipped cream and fresh berries        

Serves 10-12

Recipe barely adapted from Baking Illustrated and inspired by Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook

Ingredients for Angel Food Cake:

1 cup sifted cake flour

1 1/2 cups sifted sugar

12 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions for Cake:

Move an oven rack to the lower-middle position and pre-heat your oven to 325F.  Set aside an ungreased large tube pan with a removable bottom.  ( If you can’t remove the bottom, line it with parchment paper.)

Whisk together the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a small bowl.  Place the other 3/4 cup of sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-speed until they break up and begin to froth.  Add the cream of tartar and salt.  Turn the speed up to medium and beat until the whites form soft mounds.   Beat in remaining 3/4 cup sugar, just 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the whites form soft peaks and are shiny.  Next add vanilla and lemon juice and beat until just combined.

Turn off the mixer and sift third of the flour/sugar mixture over the whites.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold them in.  Sift the remaining flour/sugar mixture of the whites and gently fold.  Scrape the batter into your pan.  Smooth the top with a spatula.  Gently bang the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when you touch it with your finger, about 50-60 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and invert it onto the prongs of the pan or use the neck of a glass bottle.  Allow the cake to cool for 2 to 3 hours before removing it from the pan.

Once cool, run a knife around the edges of the pan.  Slice the cake out the pan and carefully slice off the removable bottom.   Set the cake golden brown side up on a cake platter or stand.

Using a serrated knife cut 1 inch the top of the cake off.  Set aside.  Carefully cut down into the cake, leaving a 1 inch border from the middle hole and cake “wall” and 1 inch base.  Scope out the inside of the cake and set aside. (Keep the scraps for nibbling!)

Fill the hollowed area of the cake with your honey whipped cream/berry mixture.   Place cake top on and press gently.  Cover the rest of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to over-night.  The cake, refrigerated, will last up to 2 days, but I doubt you will have leftovers.  Enjoy!

Honey Whipped Cream  + Fresh Berry Mixture

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook

Ingredients:

3 cups heavy cream

5-6 tablespoons of honey  (light flavored)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced in quarters

Directions:

Start with a chilled bowl and beater.  Add cold heavy cream to the bowl and beat until the cream thickens.  Add honey and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream creates stiff peaks.  Be careful not to overbeat!   Remove less than half of the whipped cream and place in a small bowl.  (Set aside remaining whipped cream.)  Using a rubber spatula fold in the berries.  Use the berry mixture to fill the cake and use the remaining whip cream to cover the entire cake.

**You can make the whipped cream (without the berries) ahead of time.  Be sure to store it in an air-tight container in the fridge.  It will stay fresh for up to 10 hours.  Whisk for about 10 minutes before using and then proceed with the recipe.**

5 Retro Cake Links for Spring

Love upside down cakes? Try Sally’s Baking Addictions Pineapple Upside-Down Cake made from scratch!

For the coconut lovers in your life make Coconut Queen Party Cake with Marshmallow Frosting.  Head to Mid-Century Menu for the recipe.

I just discovered the Lady Baltimore Cake today and apparently it is Martha Stewart’s’ favorite.  Check it out here.

If you need a simple, old fashion cake make Betty’s Banana Layer Cake.  I love all things banana so this is going on my must make list.

My grandmother use to make this delightful and tasty chocolate cake roll all the time.  Thanks for reminding me Smitten Kitchen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrot Tea Cake + 5 Tea Cakes for Spring

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A much-needed new car battery triggered the anti-theft code for the radio in my car.  Silence.  No NPR, no music.  I made a few good guesses for the code, but none of them worked.  We were left with just the sound of the windshield wipers moving robotically back and forth.  The kids were oddly quiet on the way to school.  Maybe the lack of sunshine was getting to them or maybe like a newly discovered old toy, they enjoyed the silence.  I can’t say.

I finished the drop-offs and headed home; the baby now asleep in the back seat.  The resounding silence overwhelmed me.  Thoughts drifted in and receded like the tide.  Thoughts fell like spring snow and melted away just as quickly.   No, they didn’t do any of that.  My thoughts in that long, loud moment of silence were too much to hear.  I wasn’t prepared, so I brushed them aside.

I pulled into our driveway, relieved the silence would end once I transferred the baby from the car-seat to his crib.  But it didn’t.  He slept peacefully in my arms as I unlocked the door and carried him up the stairs into his room.  Once downstairs, I checked my email, my phone, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook; all those place you check when you can’t be alone with your thoughts.  Checking into my online world didn’t make me feel any better.  I set my phone down and turned on the oven.

ctcCKIn silence, I whisked the dry ingredients, beat the butter and sugar, mixed in the eggs.  I grated the carrots and tossed them into the wet ingredients along with a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt.  I folded the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture.  I spread the batter into my prepared loaf pan and popped it into the oven.  All in silence, all the while thoughts, welcomed and, some not, came and went.

Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger permeated the house and forty minutes later my carrot tea cake was ready.  After some cooling time, I topped the cake with a thick layer of maple cream cheese frosting.  And during the baking, then cooling and frosting, my sweet boy woke from his nap.  The silence, now gone, left me wondering: what’s next?

Carrot Tea Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

A moist and dense tea cake full of grated carrots and topped with a large, delicious dollop of maple cream cheese frosting.  This a perfect sweet treat for your next spring brunch.

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

serves 8

Ingredients:

1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature and a bit more for the pan

1 cup white whole wheat flour (This flour will make the cake a bit more dense.  If you prefer a lighter cake, stick with all-purpose flour only.)

1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour and a bit more for the pan

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt ( I used Fage 2% because that is what I had on hand.)

1 cup packed grated carrots (from about 2 carrots)

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Butter and flour a 5×9 inch loaf pan and set aside.   In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Beat in carrots and Greek yogurt.  Turn your mixer to low and add the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  The batter will be thick, almost like cookie dough and that’s ok!

Spread batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Start checking at 35 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and spring back in the center when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Then turn the cake onto a wire rack and cool completely.

While your cake is cooling, make the frosting.  Using a clean mixer, beat the cream cheese confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup until very fluffy.  Spread on top of cooled cake.  Serve or store at room temperature in an air tight container for a couple of days.  I think this cake tests best on the second day.  Enjoy!

5 Tea Cakes for Spring!

If you love Nutella, check out Zoe Bake’s recipe for Nutella swirled banana bread.  My kids will go nuts for this, if I share. 😉

Apple pie disguised as a quick bread?  Yes, it exists and I can’t wait to try it this fall with fresh, local apples.  Head to My Baking Addiction for her apple pie bread recipe.

My mom makes an amazing lemon tea bread that is very similar to Paper & Birch’s glazed lemon bread recipe.  Yum!

Summer will come eventually and when it does use up extra zucchini for my zucchini bread recipe. So good especially with a little cream cheese.

Looking for a whole-grain quick bread recipe?  Check out Babble’s whole grain strawberry banana bread!

Chocolate-Rye Crumb Cake + 5 Chocolate Desserts to Get You Through Winter!

 

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I flagged this recipe from Bon Appétit a couple of months ago, placed the magazine on top of a collection of sloppily organized cookbooks and walked away.

I’ll make it next week…

Weeks passed, more snow fell, kids got sick, training runs got longer and more depleting, I avoided my cookbooks and magazines.  I made easy comfort food and desserts.  My cooking self hibernated, hunkered down, got through…winter.  It wasn’t until last week I felt motivated to make something new.  Maybe the sudden sound of songbirds in the early morning, or the longer days woke me up.  I can’t say.  Maybe spilling the red bowl of Kosher salt that sits next to stove near the cookbooks was the catalyst for cooking something new.  The spill did force me to clear the entire counter, wipe it down and then sort of organize my cookbooks and magazines.  So forget the songbirds or the longer days.  My clumsy self set off a series of events that forced my withdrawn self to wake up.  Or least make this long forgotten recipe: chocolate-rye crumb cake.

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I have never baked with rye flour.  As I folded the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, the dough became quite sticky and dense.  I thought about throwing it out, but I carried on, spread the batter into my prepared pan and sprinkled the top with the cacao nib crumble.  55 minutes later the cake was ready.  I let it cool and went about my day.  (This is not normal behavior, I know.  Fresh chocolate cake sitting on the counter begs for a knife and fork, and a plate is optional.)  I guess I assumed the cake would taste like cardboard, despite containing plenty of butter and sugar.

I should never assume anything again.  One bite and I was hooked.  Moist and tender with a mellow rye flavor, this chocolate crumb cake is one I will make for years to come.  The chocolate flavor is robust and overpowers the rye flour, but that doesn’t bother me.  The crumble, similar to chocolate cookie crunches, but not nearly as processed, is the highlight of the cake.  The cacao nibs add a pure chocolate element to the cocoa powder.  Then all of that antioxidant wholesomeness pairs perfectly with butter and sugar.  Can it get any better?  I doubt it.  Enjoy!

Chocolate-Rye Crumb Cake

serves 8

barely adapted from Bon Appétit January 2015

Ingredients:

For the crumble:

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/4 rye flour

3 tablespoons cacao nibs

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder ( I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For Cake:

Non-stick spray

3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 cup rye flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup buttermilk

heaping 1/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

Directions:

Make your crumble.  Whisk together sugar, flours, cacao nibs, cocoa powder and salt in a medium bowl until combined.  Using your fingers work the cold butter into the dry ingredients until large clumps form.  The crumble should resemble wet sand and there should be no dry spots.  Keep chilled until ready to use.  (Crumble can be made 2 days in advance.)

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Spray a 8×2 inch round cake pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside.  Whisk together flours, baking powder, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat butter, sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy or about 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowls and add your eggs  and vanilla.  Mix for another 2 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk.  Mix well.  Add other half of dry ingredients followed by the yogurt.  The batter will seem stiff and sticky. That’s ok!

Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread crumble over.  Bake for 55-60 minutes.  The middle should spring back when touched lightly.  Allow cake to cool in pan on a wire rack before removing.  Serve at room temperature alone or with whipped cream or ice cream.  (Cake can be made a couple of days ahead. Store well wrapped at room temperature.)

5 Chocolate Desserts To Get You Through Winter

St. Patty’s Day is next week so why not celebrate with stout cupcakes with chocolate covered pretzels or triple chocolate Guinness cookies.  Beer and chocolate almost always taste good together!

I have a tub of mascarpone sitting in my fridge and now I have a plan: chocolate mascarpone cake with berries.

Raspberry season is coming.  If you see some raspberries at the grocery store, buy them and make double chocolate raspberry brownies. Go ahead, treat yourself!

My brownie pie will help soothe your winter blues, I promise.

Cranberry Maple Breakfast Cake + 5 Quick Breads for Christmas Morning!

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Yellow sticky notes decorate our refrigerator most days; notes to myself, to do lists, don’t forget this, don’t forget that, pick up here, drop off there.  When the holidays come my lists double.  Before I went out last night for dinner with two of my oldest, dearest friends I wrote yet another list and stuck it on the fridge.

“Why so many notes, Mama?” C asked.

“Because I have a lot to remember.” Me.

“You better not forget!” C said as she shoveled another bite of Annie’s mac and cheese into her mouth.

I thought about what she said on my drive into the city.  What about if I did forget my list? What if all the balls I keep juggling in the air came crashing down?  Would they be ok?  Would I be ok? I think so, I hope so.  After all, they are just lists.

cbc015When I feel overwhelmed, I bake. I stop my busy mind and focus on the present.  I accomplish something, sometimes with great results and other times, not so much.  A few days ago, I baked a breakfast cake and it was delicious.  I found a recipe in Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook (love her!) and altered it a bit.  Her recipe calls for maple-pecans. I know what you are thinking: why take out maple pecans? They sound amazing.  I agree!  My older boy has a nut allergy, so we are a nut-free house.  I replaced the pecans with dark chocolate chips and orange zest.  The ratio of the dark chocolate and tart cranberries was perfect.  The maple syrup infused the tender, buttery cake and the orange zest just worked, subtly complimenting both the chocolate and cranberries.

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The icing on this holiday cake made me swoon.  A little confectioners’ sugar and a few tablespoons of maple syrup bring this breakfast/anytime of the day cake together in one perfect bite.  Enjoy and happy holidays!

Cranberry Maple Breakfast Cake With Maple Glaze

Makes 3 mini-loaves or 1 9-inch loaf

recipe adapted from Joanna Chang’s Flour

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups cake flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 6 pieces

1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature

2 eggs

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

zest of one medium orange

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2  cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

Maple Glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 or 3 tablespoons of maple syrup

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Butter and flour mini loaf pans or 9×5 inch loaf pan and set aside.

Using your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or hand-held mixer, beat together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes.  The mixture should look like sand.  (Beat for about 5 minutes if using a hand-held mixer.)

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, orange zest and 1/3 cup of maple syrup.  Once thoroughly combined, add half of the buttermilk mixture to the flour/butter mixture and beat on medium/high-speed for about 1 minute or until light, fluffy and pale.  Stop the mixer and scrap the sides of the bowl.  On low-speed add the rest of the buttermilk mixture.  Be sure the buttermilk is fully combined with the flour mixture!

Fold the chopped cranberries and chocolate chips into the batter.  Pour the batter into prepared pans and smooth out the top.  Bake the mini-loaf pans for about 35 minutes, but I would start checking them at 25 minutes.  (If using a 9×5 inch pan, bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.)  Let cool in the pan for about a half hour.  While the bread(s) are cooling, make the maple glaze.

In a small bowl whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup.  Spread or pour the glaze over the still warm bread.

The cake will last, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days at room temperature.  I think the cake tastes better the next day because the flavors really soak in!  Make this now and it will be perfect for Christmas morning.  Enjoy!

5 Quick Bread Recipe Links For Christmas!

Need a citrus kick to get you through the holidays?  Check out Two Peas and Their Pod’s recipe for lemon almond bread.  Sounds like the perfect quick bread to make all winter long!

Cranberry season is almost over so grab a bag and make Cake Duchess’s cranberry streusel quick bread.  I love a good streusel topping and this one looks delicious!

Love banana bread? Check out Zoe’s bakes Nutella swirled banana bread, Joy the Baker’s brown butter banana bread and Cookie + Kate’s banana trail mix bread.  Choices, choices…

 

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing + 5 Easy Halloween Dessert Links!

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“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be.” Douglas Adams

Happy accident. Serendipity. Stroke of luck.  This is how my pumpkin oatmeal cake came to be.  Like so many other things in my life I chose a path hoping for a certain outcome, made a couple of gut feeling choices and luckily the result turned out great.  We received a sugar pumpkin in our CSA last week.  What the hell am I going to do with this thing?  I’ve never roasted a pumpkin before because the can stuff suits me just fine.  Why mess with easy and delicious?  Choices are tough.  I could put the pumpkin on our porch and let the squirrels have it, use a can of pumpkin puree that’s been sitting in my pantry for two years or roast a farm fresh sugar pumpkin.  I went for it and roasted the pumpkin. You never know where one decision might lead.

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Well my choice lead me to Alton Brown’s recipe for pumpkin puree.  I cut the sweet little pumpkin in half with my best knife.  (He suggests using a cleaver, but I don’t own one, I’m not there…yet.)  I scooped out the seeds and let the kids play with the goo.  They loved it and they made a huge mess, but they were occupied.  Hooray!  I sprinkled the flesh with kosher salt and roasted each half, flesh side down, for about 30 minutes.  My house smelled like pure, earthy pumpkin.  Once the pumpkin was fork tender, I removed it from the oven and allowed it to cool for an hour.  After a quick hour, I scooped up the flesh and spooned it into my food processor; minutes later I had fresh pumpkin puree. Easy!

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I set out to make Martha’s Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing.  Her recipe called for canned, solid pumpkin puree, and my puree was anything but solid.  It was more like stage 2 baby food, a little thick, but not solid.  Once I noticed how watery the batter was, I decided to add 2 cups of oatmeal for a little health and chewiness; still planning on cookies not a cake.  Then I noticed the time.  The kids were getting restless and the baby would be up from his nap soon.  Bars! The quick version of a cookie!  I had a ton of batter so I chose a 9×13 pan.  I poured the batter into my prepared pan and popped it in the oven. Fifteen minutes later, I peeked through the oven door and saw the batter rising higher than expected, slowly forming a golden brown pumpkin cake.   I expected bars.  I wanted moist, perfectly spiced, slightly chewy pumpkin bars.  My choices lead to a new dessert, a new plan.

Once the cake cooked and cooled, I took a little piece from the corner.  Moist, sweet and nicely spiced…it was good?!  Cake needs frosting or icing.  I love maple and pumpkin together, so I made an easy maple cream cheese icing.  I attempted to artistically drizzle the icing all over the cake, but it looked more like my 4-year-old got a hold of the icing.  I smoothed over the icing and sprinkled it with a bit of cinnamon.  I cut myself a piece of cake, took a big bite and enjoyed my happy accident.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

This cake is moist, dense and perfectly sweet.  The fresh pumpkin makes a difference you can taste: earthy and subtly sweet.  The oatmeal adds a surprising texture to the cake.  The maple cream cheese icing pairs well with the pumpkin and can be easily doubled if you want a thick layer of icing.  This is an easy dessert for the upcoming holiday season. Enjoy!

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart and Epicurious

serves 10-12

Ingredients for Cake:

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

2 cups of old fashion oats

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups packed light-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions for cake:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Line a 13×9 metal baking pan with parchment paper.  Lightly, grease and flour the parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and oatmeal; set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl half way through. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.  Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, evaporated milk and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.  (**The batter may separate at this point, but don’t worry it will be fine once you add the dry ingredients.**)

Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth out the top.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean or the cake springs back when lightly touched.  Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  Once cool, carefully remove the cake.  Remove the parchment paper and decorate the cake with maple cream cheese icing and serve.  The cake is best the day it is made, but tastes great the next day too.  If you have any cake left, store it at room temperature in an air-tight container.  Enjoy!

Maple Cream Cheese Icing

makes about 2 cups but can easily be doubled

Ingredients:

1 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Directions:

Using a stand mixer beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the sifted sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and pinch of salt.  Beat until very smooth and decorate your cake.

5 Easy Halloween Dessert Links!

Need a quick and easy finger food dessert for your Halloween party? Head to Willow Bird baking for her maple cream snickerdoodle bars.  I must make these!

Offer some nut-free Halloween treats this year!  The kitchen has a list of 5 nut-free Halloween treats that both kids and adults will love. Check it out!

If you love Halloween Oreos try making your own!  Better yet, try my recipe.  So good!

I love caramel.  Two Red Bowl’s recipe for apple cider crème fraiche caramels has me motivated to attempt candy making again!

Have time to make candy and want to keep it sorta healthy on Halloween?  Head to Edible Perspective for chocolate pumpkin almond butter cups.  Yes please!