Thursday, November 2, 2017

October's Give-Away Apron

November snuck up, but I didn't want another day to go by without announcing October's Apron Winner.  Congratulations to Linda from "The Puddle Pond" blog!  Please contact me with your information where to send your gift.

Now, sadly and with heavy heart, I will be ending my blog.  I feel I've neglected it and all my lovely followers, so after 9 years, I will say good bye.  I will, however, try to stop in on your blogs from time to time and keep in touch.  Thank you for all your support, especially during the darkest time of my life when we lost our daughter--you all were a lifeline to hold on to.

As Shakespeare wrote..."parting is such sweet sorrow."  Have a wonderful holiday and a blessed new year.  Susan

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fall Pear Muffin with Cinnamon Oat Streusel

This morning was chilly...and for me to say that, it was cold.  In fact, I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and even turned the heat on for a bit.  So, baking this morning I was looking for those fall-flavors that would fit the weather.

Pears, like pumpkins and apples, are definitely a fruit we see in the markets and farm stands.  In fact, my best friend had so many pears this year in her orchard that she was canning for days!  It's thought that pears originated in Caucasus and spread to Europe and Asia where they were cultivated more than 4000 years ago. Both the Greeks and Romans valued the fruit for its flavor and medicinal properties.

Raw pears are 84% water, 15% carbohydrates and contains negligible protein and fat.  It has about 57 calories and is a good source of dietary fiber.  They are consumed fresh, canned as juice and dried, of course, jams and jellies, including butter and cider.

Fall Pear Muffin with Cinnamon Oat Streusel
1 large egg
4 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup firmly packed browned sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large Bosc pear, peeled and grated
3/4 cup Oat Flour
1 cup King Arthur All-purpose Flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Oat Topping:
1/2 cup Old Fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
1/3 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
6 T firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 T unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Spray a 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper cups.  Make the topping

Mix all the ingredients together and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter in until it is chunky and only a few pea-size pieces of butter are visible.
Set aside.  Make the batter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter.  Add the milk, sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla whisk into combined.  Then stir in the grated pear.

(You can make your own oat flour by pulsing Old-Fashioned Oats in a food processor.)
Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and fold together into the batter.  Be careful not to overtax.

Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin wells.  Mound with equal amounts of streusel on top.

Baking 18 to 20 minutes for standard muffins or 25 to 30 minutes for jumbo size muffins.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool about 5 minutes.  Carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer to a rack to cool a little more.  I enjoyed my warm with my favorite cup of Harney & Sons tea. Enjoy!

My flowers are still beautiful with the days warm with the nights very cool!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Butter Pecan Angle Food Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

All a recipe has to say is "Butter Pecan" and it peaks my interest!  I found this recipe in a special release magazine called Fall Baking Cookbook on the newsstand at my grocery store and this is just one of many I'll be trying with the fall weather upon us.

Angel Food Cake originated in the United States and it's a type of sponge cake but made with egg whites, flour and sugar, with a whipping agent like Cream of Tartar.  It was so named because of it's unique light and fluffy texture and is said to resemble the "food of the angels!"  It first became popular in the 19th century and it differs from other cakes because it uses no butter, but rather gets it's structure from "protein foam" from whipping egg whites.  Egg whites, which are composed of many proteins, aid in creating the voluminous angel food cake.

If you're a Butter Pecan fan, like me (and my mother was), then this is the cake for you; my hubby loved it!

Butter Pecan Angel Food Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Used an UNGREASED 10-inch Tube Pan, preferably one with "feet" to help properly cool the cake.

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
1 cup cake flour
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup finely ground pecans
12 egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 T Butter flavoring
1 T Vanilla extract
1 T Vanilla Butternut Flavoring
1 cup granulated sugar

In a medium bowl, sift the confectioners' sugar and cake flour.  Add the salt and stir.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and flavorings until frothy on high speed.  Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until stiff and peaks form.  My mom always said, "if you can turn the bowl upside down over your head and none falls out, you've whipped it enough!"

Remove bowl from the stand and gently fold in the flour/confectioners' sugar mixture in thirds until it's fully incorporated.  This can get a little messy, but gently folding ensures you have a light cake!
Spoon mixture into the 10-inch Tube pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes--mine actually took 38, so watch it after 35 just to be sure.
If you don't have a 10-inch tube pan with feet, you will have to invert the pan onto a top of a bottle. Let it cool completely.

Browned Butter Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
10T unsalted butter, cubed and browned

In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until it turns a medium brown and has a nutty aroma--about 8 minutes.  Have your confectioners' sugar and salt in a medium bowl and when the butter is ready, pour over the sugar through a fine-mesh strainer.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour over the inverted cooled cake and decorate with additional chopped pecans. Enjoy!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pumpkin Pie Crumble

Autumn is definitely upon us--leaves  are changing, nights are cooler, and retail stores already have Christmas products on the shelves!  Seriously, I was out on Saturday shopping and I see rows and rows of Christmas decorations, lights, and cards out.  Well, I'm taking my time and relishing in the season.  I've waited all summer for the days to be less humid and turn the air conditioning off.

However, Thanksgiving is getting close enough to start planning this year's meal.  I usually do Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Cheesecake, but I thought I'd try some new things this year. (Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks!)  This has all the flavor, and texture of pumpkin pie, but with a cake base and a lovely crumble topping.  Easy to make and may surprise your guest as well.

Pumpkin is native to North America, but I doubt if the first Thanksgiving had it on the menu.  It was the nineteenth century when pumpkin pie appeared in cookbooks or became popular as dessert at the Thanksgiving table. In England, the "pie" took on a different look; the pumpkin was stuffed with apples, spices, and sugar and baked whole.  I think I prefer our method:-)

Pumpkin Pie Crumble
3/4 cup + 2T (110g) cake flour*
1/2 cups + 2 T (125g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 cup (110g) cold, unsalted butter
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees (175C).  Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Butter the parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  I grated the butter into the mixture, then use a pastry cutter to mix it into the dry ingredients.

Add the egg and stir until the dough started to come together.
Transfer the dough to the springform pan and flour your fingers. Press the dough every into the pan.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until it's puffy and browns a little. Remove from oven, but leave the oven on.

1/4 cup (30g) King Arthur All-purpose Flour
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 T firmly packed brown sugar
1.4 tso, ground cinnamon
2 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup (60g) pecans, chopped

In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then use the pastry cutter to cut the butter into the mixture. Add the chopped pecans, then stir until the mixture comes together in clumps.

1 (15oz/425g) can pumpkin puree
2 T brown sugar
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 large egg
1/3 cup (80ml) milk

In a medium bowl, mix the first four ingredients, stirring with a whisk or rubber spatula.  Add the egg and then the milk and stir until smooth.

Pour the filling evenly over the cooled crust, then sprinkle the crumble evenly over top.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the filling is set and the topping is golden.  Let cool completely before removing from the pan.
I served a slice with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, but actually, it's just as good on it's own. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Autumn Roasted Pear Bundt Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

I love the flavors of Autumn!  I bake a lot with pumpkin and apples, but when a good friend mentioned she had a wonderful slice of Roasted Pear Cake in a tavern in Maine, well my taste buds began salivating and I couldn't wait to come up with something my family could enjoy.

Pears, like apples are Fall fruits and although there may not be as many varieties as apples, there is a pretty good variety.  I used Bartlett in this recipe, but next time, I'm trying Bosc or Anjou just to see if the flavors change.

Autumn Roasted Pear Bundt Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

2 1/2 lbs (about 5) pears
3 T water
3 T granulated sugar
juice from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Peel, core and chop the pears into 1-inch pieces.  Transfer the pears to a baking dish and toss them with the lemon juice, water, and sugar.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake until the pears are soft and cooked through, 30-45 minutes.

 Remove the foil and let the pears cool to room temperature, then mash them, leaving some larger bits of pear in the sauce.  Measure out 2 cups of pear sauce and set aside--you can save the rest to have with breakfast ;-)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup creme fraiche
3 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. cardamon
2 cups Pear Sauce

Turn the oven down to 350F-degrees.  Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, oil and brown sugar together until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the creme fraiche and mix to combine.

Add the dry ingredients and the pear sauce, mixing just until combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap on the counter top to release any air.  Bake the cake until golden and cooked through--55 to 65 minutes.  Let the cake cool about 10 minutes in the pan, then invert it onto a rack to cool completely.

Browned Butter Glaze
6 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 to 4 T milk
pinch of salt

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, cook the butter until it lightly browns and smells nutty.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.  Add a pinch of salt.  Let cool completely.

Whisk in the confectioners' sugar adding milk as needed to create a pourable glaze.  Pour over the cooled cake.

I wish I could say we were actually having Autumn, but's been in the upper 80s/90s and feels more like July!  However, a bite of this wonderful cake, I can imagine.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Maple Creme Brûlée and October's Give-Away Apron

First, let me wish all my friends in Canada...Happy Thanksgiving!  A day dedicated to family and the harvest, the Canadian Thanksgiving has been celebrated since 1879 when Parliament passed a law designating it as a national holiday occurring on the second Monday in October.

There are many references of giving thanks by settlers to this region called New France, dating back to 1578, but sporadic.  Interestingly, after The American Revolution, loyal refugees to the Crown of England took with them the celebration foods that they had come to know--turkey, squash, and pumpkin to Canada, in addition to foods that had become a tradition there. The theme of Canada's Thanksgiving has changed each year, focusing on an important event they are thankful for; which I find nice.

So, in honor of my friends to the North, I made Maple Creme Brûlée.

One of my favorite desserts and perfect with it's creamy maple flavoring after you break through the crunchy sugar topping.  Very easy to make and would be a lovely ending to a family celebration.

Maple Creme Brûlée
2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup Maple Syrup (I used Grade A)
1 tsp. Maple Extract

Sugar in the Raw

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.

In a medium saucepan, heat the heavy cream just until bubbles appear around the edges...don't boil!

In a large bowl, preferably with a spout, whisk the egg yolks, maple syrup, and maple extract together.  Slowly add a bit of the heavy cream, whisking after each addition.  (This is called tempering.)
Place 6 ramekins in a casserole dish.
Once all the cream mixture has been incorporated into the egg yolk mixture, pour through a fine sieve into the ramekins.  This catches any "eggy bits" that might have occurred!
Place casserole dish in the preheated oven and pour boiling water around the ramekins, coming about half-way up the sides.

Bake 40-45 minutes.  The centers should be a bit jiggly, but set.  Don't be concerned that the tops may have browned a bit; that's due to the maple sugar.
Remove ramekins from the water bath and allow to cool on a rack until room temperature.  Place in the refrigerator for two hours.

When you're ready to serve dessert, heat your broiler and place the ramekins on a sheet pan. Sprinkle tops with Sugar in the Raw and set pan under the broiler.  If you own a Mini Torch, which I prefer to do, heat the individual ramekins after you've sprinkled the sugar on top.

Serve with fresh berries or alone as I served these.  My hubby said he could have licked the bowl clean it was that good! Enjoy!

October's Give-Away Apron has special meaning for me with the Sunflowers.  Yesterday, would have been our daughter,'s 45th birthday--a day that is just as hard for me as her passing.  She loved sunflowers and collected several prints by Van Gogh to frame and hang on her walls.  She also had me sew her a sunflower dress when she was a senior in high school--I still have that dress.

If you would like to win this apron...simply comment on the posts this month and this could be yours.  Good Luck!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts & September's Give-Away Apron Winner

Fall is upon us and it brings out the flavors that my family loves; apples and pumpkins being at the top!  These cake doughnuts are easy to make and with a little trick I do, your family won't know that you didn't stand over a pot of oil and fry them!

The pumpkin farms here in North Carolina have fields full of ripen pumpkins and I only wish my girls were still small so we could take part in the festive activities of hay rides and trying to carry the biggest pumpkin in from the field.  Last year, I was in New Jersey with my granddaughters and I got to share that experience with them.  Of course, we had mini Apple Cider Doughnuts, which are just as good and I helped them carve pumpkins for their school's contest. These are the memories I hold dear.

Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (canned)
1 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (or 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. of ground cloves, and 1/4 tsp. each of ground nutmeg and ground ginger)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 3/4 cups + 2T King Arthur all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans.  If you don't have doughnut pans, you can make these in a standard muffin tin.

Whisk together the oil, eggs, pumpkin, spices, salt and baking powder.
Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the flour just until smooth.
I used a plastic pastry bag fitted with a large round tip to pipe in the batter into the doughnut wells, about 3/4 full.  (This recipe makes 15 to 18 doughnuts, so you will have to bake another pan!)
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes--set the timer at 15 and check.  These were done in 15 minutes.
Remove doughnuts from oven and allow to cool about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack.
While the additional pan of doughnuts is baking, melt:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

In a separate bowl, mix:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 T ground cinnamon

Dip the doughnuts into the melted butter, then sprinkle them with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Warm and delicious!  Perfect with a glass of cold Spiced Cider--it's still in the 80s here, or if it's chillier, try a cup of warm Mulled Cider. Enjoy!

A little behind, but none the less...the winner of September's Apron is Barbara Woods!  Please email me your address and I will send this beauty out to you!   I will have October's up tomorrow.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Easier Apple Strudel

Strudel, in German means, "whirlpool or eddy" and it has long since, in the world of pastries seem unassuming.  Pretty much you take a piece of dough, the size of a brick, and stretch it until it measures 4-feet long x 4-feet wide.  It's said, "you should be able to read a newspaper through it."

Well, the dough is such an ordeal, few homemakers attempt it because it requires so much counter space and we end up buying it in a bakery.  However, I came across a recipe in Cook's magazine that used phyllo sheets and I was able to accomplish the most delicious strudel I've ever had.

With Fall upon us and wonderful apple varieties, I made strudel.  The recipe called for Golden Delicious, but I found a new variety called "Ginger Gold" and decided to try it.  Not only was the substitution of the phyllo making this an easy dessert, but a few other tricks I learned to prevent a gummy filling and avoid gaps.  The crust remained flakey and the apple filling stayed put!

Easier Apple Strudel

1 3/4 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
3 T golden raisins (for my friend who hates raisins, you can use dried cranberries!)
1 1/2 T panko bread crumbs
7 T unsalted butter, melted
14 (14 by 9-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed
1 T confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting the strudel after it's baked

Toss the apples with the sugar, lemon zest & juice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt together in a large bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until apples are warm to touch, about 2 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving.  Let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer apple mixture to a colander set over a bowl and let drain, reserving liquid.  Return apples to the bowl and stir in raisins and panko bread crumbs.

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Spray a rimmed baking sheet with a vegetable oil spray.  Stir in 1/8tsp of salt into the melted butter.

Place one sheet of parchment paper, 16 1/2-inch x 12-inch on the counter (or use a bread board).  Place one sheet of phyllo dough on the parchment and lightly brush with melted butter, then lightly dust with confectioners' sugar from a fine mesh strainer.

Repeat with 6 more layers of phyllo dough, dusting with the confectioners' sugar between each one.
(Seven sheets used--this recipe makes two strudels.)

Arrange half of the apple mixture on the phyllo sheets; You should have the mixture 2-inches from the bottom and both sides.
Fold the sides in first, then, using the parchment to assist, fold bottom edge of the phyllo over the filling.  Continue to roll strudel, using the parchment paper.  Brush folded sides with a little of the reserved liquid.  Use a thin metal spatula to transfer strudel to one side of the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat the process for the second strudel.  Lightly brush the top and sides of the strudel with some of the remaining apple liquid.  Bake strudels until golden brown, about 27 to 35 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through for even browning.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes.
Sprinkle tops with additional confectioners' sugar.  Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!