Monday, December 11, 2017

Pumpkin Walnut Cake

I made this cake when I had a break, that is over Thanksgiving break :)  I know I'm way behind posting related recipe according to the season; but I've given up trying to follow the trend because it's just not enough time in my life to do that anymore.

I thought this cake is delicious all around; it was a moist and has tender crumbs.  It reminded me of my mom's pumpkin roll cake--flavor-wise--but hers uses no eggs while this has.  This year I'm in love with pumpkin spice all over again.  My favorite beverage right now is chai tea latte with lots of pumpkin spice; it's a nice drink to have when the weather is dropping down to the 30's.

The caramel whipped cream is equally good, I actually have never made it before and thought, why didn't I try this sooner?  Combining caramel and whipped cream is simply divine.  The original recipe doesn't use salt but I did put in a generous pinch of it because I really thought it needed it.

The recipe came from my favorite book in my book shelves, The Cake Book by Tish Boyle.  There are numerous recipes that I haven't even tried and all sounds very yummy.

Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Walnut Cake

Makes one 9-inch square cake

1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup safflower oil or other neutral vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degree F.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt into a medium bowl.  Whisk to combine well, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs with both sugars at medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes.  Add the oil, pumpkin puree, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until blended.  Add the flour mixture at low speed in three additions, mixing just until blended.  Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir in the walnuts.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack.

To serve, cut the cake into squares, and top each with a large dollop of the cream.

Caramel Cream

Makes about 3 cups

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
Generous pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extra

In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to high and cook without stirring, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden amber color, about 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add 1/2 cup of the heavy cream (the mixture will bubble up) and sea salt, stirring until smooth.  Carefully pour the hot caramel into a heatproof glass measure and loosely cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the caramel until chilled, about 2 hours.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the remaining 3/4 cup cream with the mascarpone cheese and vanilla at medium speed until blended.  Add the chilled caramel and beat at a high speed until the mixture forms soft peaks.  Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate.

Source:  The Cake Book by Tish Boyle

Friday, December 8, 2017

Whole Wheat Apple Cake

A whole wheat apple cake that's moist and choke-full of apples.  I love making easy cake like this because it's flavorful and light enough for after weekdays after dinner desserts.  We eat it for breakfast, of course, because the recipe said that it was for that time of day :)

Any apples will do for this cake, I had some homegrown Fuji and Gala that I used.  It's a recipe that uses spices that are so wonderful this time of year.  The house smells so fragrant while I baked this cake.

The cake is slightly darker here because I didn't cover it after 45 minutes of baking.'s something that I missed, as usual, for not reading too carefully towards the end.  The color is pretty dark on top but the inside is still moist. 

So here is the recipe for your enjoyment!

Whole Wheat Apple Cake

Makes 1 9-inch cake

3 apples, Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  In a medium bowl, combine apples, 1/2 cup light-brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves; set aside.  Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.  Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, until well combined.  Add vanilla extract, and combine.  Add reserved flour mixture and yogurt; stir until well combined.  Fold in two-thirds of the reserved apple mixture.

Spoon half of the batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle remaining apple mixture evenly over batter.  Top with remaining batter; smooth with a spatula.  Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar.

Bake cake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes.  Cover with foil after 45 minutes of baking.  Let cool 20 minutes before releasing cake from the pan.

Source:  adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mini Chocolate-Cinnamon Rolls

I'm so excited with a week break I have from work.  Yes, it is a Thanksgiving break for me and what do I have in mind?  My plan is to bake and cook!  I'm trying to squeeze in as many baking activities in a week, plus some cooking for Thanksgiving day for my family.

So far, I've managed to make these mini chocolate-cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  They're bite-sized morsels that I don't think it is a sin that they are categorized as desserts.  I slather these buns very well with butter and cinnamon-sugar.  Then chocolate chips were added liberally all over.  Then I rolled them as tight as I can, not an easy feat because the dough is pretty thin, but it can be done!  When it's still warm, the melted chocolate is a delicious addition to these buns.

When they're this small, my family can eat about 5 at once for breakfast.  I'm surprised that I only ate 3 but then I ate another 2 for desserts :D

The week will get busy so I better share this today!

Mini Chocolate-Cinnamon Rolls

Makes about 40 small buns

1 cup water
1/4 cup dry milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 teaspoon bread machine or instant yeast

1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened; divided
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons milk, more if needed to make a flowing consistency

I used bread machine to make my dough so place the ingredients for the dough into the bread pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.  Select Dough Cycle.

For the filling:  combine ground cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt in a small bowl.

Once the cycle is done, remove dough to a lightly floured board; cover with a large bowl and let rest 10 to 15 minutes.

Divide the dough in half.  Roll out each half to a 20-by 7-inch rectangle.  Spread one rectangle with 3 tablespoons soft butter to within 1/2 inch of the edges.  Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture then scatter half of the chocolate chips over the dough. 

Beginning at the long side, roll jellyroll-style.  Pinch to seal seam.  Cut into 20 1-inch pieces.  Place these, cut side up,  on a large baking sheet lined with parchment or sprayed with cooking spray.  Repeat procedure with remaining dough.  Cover and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in volume.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degree F.

Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until buns start to brown around the sides.  Allow to stand for a few minutes while preparing the glaze.

For the glaze:  combine all the ingredients for the glaze in a bowl and whisk until well-combined.

Drizzle the glaze onto the buns while they are still warm.

Source:  adapted from 300 Best Bread Machine Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt

Monday, November 6, 2017

Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies

Oh my, November is here already.  The fall color is spectacular here and the weather is actually pretty nice up until a few days ago.  I think it is time to crave for comfort foods again.  I've been doing some cooking with my Instant Pot and the dishes I made were stew and casserole.  My family also has been craving hot apple cider and hot cocoa; I love having them while snuggling up with my comfy blanket.

One of the requests my family has been asking me to make is cookies.  I guess they are starting to miss my baking.  The last time I baked was when my son had a birthday about three weeks ago.  I cheated because I used boxed cake mix, but I made my own marshmallow frosting.  It was a delicious cake nonetheless and I think I like to make it again using a homemade cake.

So here it is, oatmeal-cranberry cookies that I made over the weekend.  The recipe is quite simple; originally it was a oatmeal-raisin cookies but we love cranberries more than raisins.  I like how the recipe uses nutmeg instead of cinnamon.  I think there's cinnamon overuse in baking that I'm glad I don't have to use it all the time.  These cookies are chewy with a little crunch on the edge.  My family is loving the treat in their lunch boxes this week!

Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies

Makes about 40 medium-sized cookies

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned oates
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.

Decrease the speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients until combined, about 30 seconds.  Mix in the oats and dried cranberries until just incorporated.

Divide the dough into about 40 portions, each a generous 1 tablespoon, and roll them between your hands into balls about 1 inch in diameter.  Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart.

Bake, switching and rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time, until the cookies turn golden brown around the edges, 22 to 25 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Source:  adapted from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Peach-Apricot Cobbler with Crystallized Ginger

My apology for not keeping up with the blog.  I feel like it's getting a bit challenging to write a post here.  Some weeks I don't even make desserts.  The desire is there but my energy is being channeled somewhere else.  This September is particularly challenging, with a new year of school starting, there's a lot of distractions and happenings at work that when I get home and especially on weekend, I don't feel like making anything.  Hopefully next month things will start to get easier and I can go back to baking on weekends.

This cobbler is one of desserts I made a while ago.  I was fortunate to get some more fresh peaches from Peach Cove Farm in Canby that I went ahead making some canned peach sauce and the leftovers were made into this cobbler.  The fresh apricot is there because I just happened to have it and wouldn't want them to go to waste.

I ate the cobbler unadorned as breakfast, but feel free to add ice cream and make it a dessert if you like.  I love crystallized ginger, that bold flavor and the zing they impart on things, a little goes but this has quite a bit.  I guess you'll have to really like it to be able to enjoy this cobbler.

Peach Cobbler with Crystallized Ginger

Serves 8

10 yellow peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 fresh apricots, pitted and sliced
1 lemon
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, plus cream for brushing
1/4 cup demerara sugar
Vanilla ice cream for serving--optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.

Put the peach and apricot slices in a bowl.  Finely grate 2 teaspoons zest from the lemon, then squeeze 2 tablespoons juice.  Add both to the peaches and apricots.  Add the grated ginger, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and toss gently.

In a food processor, combine the flour, the baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Add the crystallized ginger and pulse briefly to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Transfer to a large bowl, add the 1 1/4 cups cream, and mix until the dough comes together.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times to bring it together into a ball.  Shape the dough into a round about 1/2 inch thick, then cut the dough into 8 even wedges.

Transfer the peach-apricot mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and arrange the dough wedges on top in 2 rows of 4 wedges, alternating the points.  Brush the wedges with cream and sprinkle with the demerara sugar.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Loosely cover the dish with foil and continue baking until the topping is deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 10-20 minutes.  Let cool, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes.  Serve the cobbler with ice cream, if preferred.

Source:  adapted from Dessert of the Day by Kim Laidlaw