Monday, August 31, 2015

Harvest Apple Cake

 Leaves are falling and it's a rainy day here in North Carolina; I can't help but feel Fall is beginning to unfold and remembered a quote by Albert Camus...

"Autumn is
a second Spring,
when every leaf
is a flower."
 Apples are Autumn for me and my favorite is the Honey Crisp which I first discovered while living in the Pacific Northwest.  The taste is like biting into a glass of cider!  I love baking with them and literally "threw" together the ingredients to enjoy a cake to fit my new pan I found at Williams~Sonoma.  (You can easily substitute a 9-inch round baking pan.)
My life has become so hectic since the move and I haven't quite found my stride yet, but I'm working on at least finding a balance.  This week I have new dies shipping to stores and I wanted to share with you a wreath that I made which fits the quote.
 Harvest Apple Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. Apple Pie Spice 
1/2 tsp. Cardamon
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 Honey Crisp Apple, washed and grated
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup broken pecans
Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray a 9-inch round baking pan or Nordic upside-down pan.  In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, then, slowly add the granulated sugar.  Beat until fluffy, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add the vanilla, Boiled cider and spices and beat together.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides as needed.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed.  Add the grated apple and mix just until combined.
Sprinkle the brown sugar on the bottom of the baking pan, then add the broken pecans, evenly distributing them over the surface.  
Spread the batter over the topping and smooth the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 38-45 minutes...test the center with a wooden skewer to check if the cake is done.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 7 minutes, then invert on a serving platter.
Isn't the design pretty with this Nordic pan?  It's a great cake alone, but I happened to have some home-made ice cream, so what the heck!  Is it beginning to look like Fall in your area?  Enjoy!  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

PB Chocolate Chip Dunkers

My mother always said, "there's two sides to everything."  Well, when I purchased this pan that is for making Granola Bars, that adage came back to me yesterday and I decided to revamp my chocolate chip cookie recipe and bake them in this unique pan.
I found this pan at Williams Sonoma and actually got it on sale (I bought 3 and sent one to my daughter and one to my Sis).  I made the recipe for granola bars the first day I bought it--and everyone loved them, but the wheels of my brain churned and I knew I'd find other uses for this pan.

First, it makes my usual cookie recipe crispier and it the perfect size for dunking into milk for those after school snacks.  Yes, another school year is around the corner kids!  I have fond memories of stopping in to my grandparents house on the way home from school, heading for the cookie jar, and telling my grandfather and grandmother all about my day.  M & C's are a perfect way to sit down with your children or grandchildren and engage in their lives:-D

PB Chocolate Chip Dippers
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Peanut Butter* (I used Peanut Butter powder and therefore, I reduced my flour by 1/4 cup)
2 3/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (if using PB powder 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1 pkg. Nestles' Mini Chocolate Chips

*For those with peanut allergies, omit!  You can substitute 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa.

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Lightly spray granola pan with a non-stick spray.

In the stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together thoroughly, scrapping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add the vanilla extract and mix once more.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scrapping down the sides as needed. If using regular peanut butter, add to the mixture now, otherwise, add the powdered peanut butter with the dry ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients and mini chocolate chips and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.
Use a small scoop to measure out the amount for the pan openings.
Use your fingers to press the mixture into the openings.

Bake in the preheated for 10-11 minutes (until golden brown).  Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes before transferring dunkers to a rack to cool completely
This recipe made 4 dozen cookies...enough to last you almost 1 week of school:-D Enjoy!   

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Happy Birthday Bars & August's Give-Away-Apron

August is a celebratory month--today, is my sister Barbara's birthday, Monday, our daughter Erin will celebrate hers and this is also the month that I started My Mother's Apron Strings.  Actually, our daughter Kelly set up the blog for me since I'm one big klutz technically:-D

This cookie bar (and others) is in the latest Food Network magazine and I'm a sucker for birthday cake, so I was anxious to try this simple recipe.  Mom always made our birthdays special by allowing us to choose what kind of cake; not a fancy, expensive party with clowns, ponies, or magicians, but family dinners with our choice of cake.  Memorable!

Happy Birthday Bars
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 T Vanilla extract
1/2 cup multi-color sprinkles

2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt

Vanilla Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 oz. white chocolate, melted
1 T Vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line a 9" x 13" baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with a baking spray.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a wire whisk, mix the sugar, melted butter and vanilla together.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Switch to using a rubber spatula, add the flour and salt, then, add the multi-color sprinkles and stir to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth to cover completely.
 Bake in preheated oven for 23-25 minutes just until a light golden color.
Allow the bars to cool, then icing them with the vanilla frosting and sprinkle on more multi-color sprinkles.  Enjoy!
I spent the day in my sewing room catching up on projects.  It's been so hot, but we finally did get some rain.  Here is August's Give-Away Apron, which coincidentally reminds me of these sprinkles:-D  Just comment on any of the posts this month and you could be wearing this apron in September!


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Peachy Keen Breakfast Snack Cake & July's Apron Winner

Peaches are a big crop in the South--I'm sure you've heard of Georgia peaches, but I have to say the ones from the Carolina's fair just as well.  I've been busy this summer making jam (that's Peach and a Peach~Cherry combo) behind this luscious Peachy snack cake.

The peach is native to northwest China, where it was first domesticated, and is the largest producer of peaches.  From there it was brought to Persia and then, transplanted in Europe. Interestingly, it is classified along with the cherry, plum and almond; that's why I chose to make the Peach~Cherry jam and to add roasted almonds for a crunchy streusel on top of this treat!

Peachy Keen Breakfast Snack Cake
Roasted Almond Streusel:
3/4 cup whole almonds (I used ones with the skin on), roasted in the oven for 6-7 minutes at 350F-degrees, then chopped
2 T firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamon
2 T butter, melted
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (remove 2T of the butter for the streusel!)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (about 3 medium) diced peaches, peeled
I use a "tomato peeler" that you can find at Sur La Table to peel the peaches!

1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  I used "cakelet" papers I found at The Container Store, but you can also make these into muffins.

In a small bowl, make the streusel; mix the chopped almonds, brown sugar, spices together, then, add 2 tablespoons of melted butter from the pan you used to melt the 1/2 cup of butter.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and oil together.  Add the brown sugar and stir together to combine.  Add the eggs and extracts and mix thoroughly.  Measure the oatmeal and all the dry ingredients and sour cream into the bowl and stir just to combine.  Lastly, add the diced peaches.
 Stir again to combine.
I filled 8 cakelets with the batter, spread it with an off-set spatula, then, sprinkled with the crunchy streusel.
Place the cakelets in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 350F-degrees.  Bake them for 22-24 minutes until a toothpick comes out cleanly when tested in the center.  If you are doing muffins, line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and don't lower temperature.  Bake 20-25 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out cleanly when tested in the center.  

I decided to add a simple glaze on top of my cakes:
1 1/2 cups confectioners' (icing) sugar
1 T light Karo Syrup
2 T very warm water

Mix all the ingredients together and use a spoon to dribble the glaze over the cakelets.

Serve warm from the's like eating peach pie for breakfast and who wouldn't like that?  Enjoy!

Now, the winner of July's apron is FindingPam!

Congratulations!  Email me your address and I'll get this lovely sent to you ASAP:-D