Monday, October 29, 2007

Sweet Potato Bourbon Poundcake

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usCan I tell you how much I love sweet potatoes? And bundt cakes. I make alot of Bundt cakes. Not on purpose really, but I find they are very easy to make and always turn out beautiful and delicious. When I found this recipe last week it seemed like the perfect autumn cake to make while I had Saturday to myself.
Yes, I had the whole day completely to myself. No Josh, no guests, just me. With all that free time I managed to get alot of housework done and make the applesauce that I have posted, below. While the applesauce simmered away, I made this cake. The best part about bundt cakes is you can mix them up in minutes and then throw them in the oven for an hour and not worry about them. I have never had one burn or be too dry.
This cake could be compared to a carrot cake but without the overwhelming vegetable taste. It definitely is dense and not sweet which, for having 1.5 cups of sugar in it, was a bit surprising. Nevertheless, it is very subtle and would go quite well with whipping cream. We ate it with good vanilla icecream.
I really don't have much to add to this recipe.
The original recipe called for very little spice so I upped it quite a bit. Even with the additions, I think it could even use some more.
I roasted the sweet potato in the oven which meant I had to let it cool for a while in the fridge before adding it to the egg mixture. If you have sweet potato left over from dinner, this would be a much easier step.
Also, the syrup mixture looks like alot but if you baste the cake with it right out of the oven and while still in the pan, then you will get the bottom of the cake nice and moist. I turned the cake out of the pan while barely warm and basted it probably three more times flipped the right way up. This kept it really moist and held the pecans to the top a little better.

Sweet-Potato Bourbon Bundt
"Bundt Classics" by Dorothy Dalquist

1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup cooked sweet potato
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup bourbon or apple juice
1 tablespoon baking powder (yes, a tablespoon)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray with flour
1 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together brown sugar, butter, and eggs until very light and fluffy.
Add sweet potato and vanilla; beat to combine.
Combine flour, baking powder, pie spice, and salt in a bowl.
Add half the flour mixture to the mixer and mix until just incorporated.
Add the milk and combine.
Add the remaining flour and combine.
Finally, add the bourbon and 1 cup chopped pecans and stir in just until incorporated.
Lightly spray a 10 or 12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray.
Sprinkle bottom of the pan with 1/4c. chopped pecans. Pour in cake batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.
Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.
Brush cake with bourbon syrup.
Serve cake slices with any remaining syrup.

Bourbon syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Boil for about 5 minutes
Add 1 T Butter
2 T Bourbon
1 tsp. vanilla
Boil for another 2 minutes, until beginning to thicken

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Have Apples ... Make Applesauce

Free Image Hosting at <a href= The apples were still mounded on my kitchen table. I looked at them often and wished they would disappear. Not that I wish I hadn't bought them. Quite the contrary. I have had rave reviews from the strudels and my grandma was thrilled to make applesauce and pies. I just wanted them out of my house so I didn't have the project hanging over my head. Every day they sat there I lost another one to mush.
So enough is enough. I turned them into applesauce for the freezer. There were plenty to make a pie or two but I think they might have been a bit past their pie prime. Applesauce is quick and easy and will be most appreciated when we have roast pork in the winter.
As per usual, I have to try a new recipe. My grandma's recipe worked really well but I also have frozen cranberries to use up and this is the perfect opportunity to use them.
This recipe comes from Joe at Culinary in the Country. If you have not had a look at his blog, you really ought to. I love his writing style and the food he makes. He gave this applesauce a rave review so I knew it would be good.
I don't really have any hints or comments for this recipe. It was extremely easy and delicious. I used my immersion blender to make the applesauce extremely smooth but if you like the chunks, use a potato masher.

Chunky Spiced Cranberry Applesauce
10 cups cubed peeled apples
1/2 lemon
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

In a large bowl, add apples and cover with cold water - squeeze juice from lemon half into bowl and then place the lemon with the apples. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven, add cranberries, sugar, maple syrup, water, cinnamon and nutmeg - bring to a boil while stirring occasionally.
Cook until the cranberries pop, about 3-5 minutes.
Drain apples and discard lemon half. Add apples to the pan.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer until the apples are soft, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the cover and bring back to a boil - cook until very thick, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and use a potato masher to mash the apples.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Twist on the Pumpkin Muffin

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Everyone is making pumpkin muffins. Even my sister, who almost never bakes, joined in and made a batch the other night. Justin proclaimed them "really good" which is a triumph for her. I am very impressed. So yes, everyone is making pumpkin muffins.

I have a multitude of recipes that could have done the job last night. Some are tried and true and some I am nervous about, so I haven't made them yet. But this recipe was different from all the others. It contained no fat and only 2T. of sweetener. I was skeptical to say the least.

The recipe read like a big mistake. No fat, very little leavening and whole wheat flour to boot? These would be bricks. Bland, tough bricks. Maybe it is my previous experiences with whole wheat flour in muffins that I have such a preconceived notion of what they will be. While I love the nutty flavor of whole wheat, I despise the leaden quality it brings. Usually I just use half whole wheat in my recipes - the ones with oil in them! This recipe was too sketchy and I almost backed out of the whole project.

Good thing I followed through. These muffins are fantastic. Moist and all the texture of a regular muffin. Plus, for any Weight Watchers point counters, they are only 1.5 points a piece! Wow, pretty good for a muffin.

A few notes -
I changed the spice amounts so that there was more depth of flavor. The original recipe would have been a bit bland and I think the amounts posted in the recipe below could still be kicked up a notch.
The recipe calls for molasses but mine has expired (does molasses even expire? who knew?) so I doubled up the honey amount.
I did add chocolate chips but only because I was worried these would be an utter failure and I thought the chips might save them.
Next time I will sprinkle them with brown sugar and cinnamon before baking because the tops are not pretty in any way and I think the added crunch will be nice.
Also, the muffins harldy rose at all so feel free to fill the pans pretty full.

Be adventurous and try these out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Whole Wheat Spice Pumpkin Muffins

2 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp molasses
1 egg
1 egg white
½ cup water
1 can (15 oz) canned pumpkin
Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Double sift all the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Set aside.
Whisk the egg, egg white, honey, molasses, and water in a large bowl. Mix in the pumpkin.
Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just mixed (you don’t see anymore dry ingredients). Don’t over mix!
Spread the muffin batter evenly into 2 6-muffin pans sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Bake for approximately 18 minutes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Apples Everywhere

Free Image Hosting at <a href=Ok, so I went a bit overboard. I will admit it. But the woman selling them was so friendly, and they looked so amazing and then we were offered 20% off because my Grandma is a senior. How could anyone say "no" to 50 lbs of orchard fresh apples for only $15?

Well I couldn't, and didn't and so here I am stuck with this enormous case of Gala and Granny Smith apples. They are so fresh and smell so good. I am addicted to the idea of baking with them, but finding the time and the energy is a whole other thing. This is one of those times where I want to quit my job and stay home to work on projects that I enjoy, like baking. Josh always reminds me, though, that not everything about staying at home is as fun as baking. I will agree with him there.

In any event, I started thinking about what I could do with my autumn bounty. Applesauce was an easy choice and I made soup pots full of the stuff with my Grandma. We made it quite simply - she never uses a recipe - just some sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest. I suppose it is like apple butter and less like the applesauce you get in the store, but homemade isn't supposed to taste like the canned stuff or I would have bought a can and saved myself all this work.

What I really wanted, though, was my Apple Strudel recipe. I have made this strudel once, when I was in college and needed to study for a midterm exam. Baking was a wonderful diversion and I think I was drowning in apples at that point as well. This was a strudel recipe made with phyllo dough and the perfect combination of rum, raisins and spices. Every slice was heaven and both strudels were devoured within hours of coming out of the oven. Flash forward years later and I want that recipe. I search high and low, through stacks of Bon Appetit's and Gourmet magazines. Epicurious searched for the beloved recipe and came up empty. Even the Epicurious Community tried to help me but, alas, they did not know of the version I was looking for. So I gave up, found a new version on some obscure cooking website and wished I had the one I really wanted.

As dumb luck would have it, I did find the recipe, and just in time too. For some reason I had set aside a stack of magazines with recipes that I intended to make this year. Stashing the stack beside my bed, I did not search it for the Strudel recipe because I knew I had already looked there. Apparently, not hard enough. In a moment of boredom while watching the election polls, I flipped through the Bon Appetit November 2002 that was set on top. Low and behold, there was the article about the amazing Greek baker, and, better yet, there was my recipe! Hallelujah, my strudel is saved.

Cutting to the chase of this story, the strudel is to die for. I know the dough is phyllo which is a big no-no in my puritan German grandma's mind but the filling is exactly how she would make it, and tastes so much like the Apple Strudel I eat at the local German deli. So consider this the No Pastry Required, Easy Way Out, German Apple Strudel. And if you are Greek, you will prefer this version better anyway.

Nothing really to add to the recipe other than that I used pecans mainly because I know very few people who like walnuts. I don't use as much butter as the recipe calls for because I find the juices from the apples and the rum soak in to the phyllo layers and hold them together regardless of puddles of butter. One other suggestion, I let the apples sit in the cooking juices for about an hour and then use a slotted spoon to remove them onto the phyllo. If you use all the cooking liquid, your strudel will be a soggy mess.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. I know I do.

Apple Strudel with Walnuts & Raisins
Bon Appetit 2002

6 apples, peeled, cored, halved, sliced lengthwise, slices halved crosswise
2 1/2T. fresh lemon juice
1/4c. butter
1/2c. sugar
1/2c. brown sugar
1/2c. brandy or rum
1 t. cinnamon

1/3c. walnuts
3T. sugar
1/4c. raisins
1t. cinnamon

12 sheets phyllo, thawed

1/2c. butter

Toss apples and lemon juice in a bowl.
Stir 1/4c. butter and brown and white sugar in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until butter melts.
Add apple mixture and brandy. Simmer until apples are tender and juices are 1/2 evaporated. Stir in cinnamon. Cool completely.
Combine walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until walnuts are coarse. Stir in the raisins.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.
Melt remaining butter in a saucepan and set aside.
Place one phyllo sheet on the work surface with long side parallel to the counter edge. Brush lightly with butter and top with second phyllo sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle with a few tablespoons walnut mixture. Repeat this process two more times, ending with a plain sheet of phyllo brushed with butter.
Spoon apple mixture into a log about 2inches from the short sides and the one long side of the phyllo stack.
Fold the short sides in and then roll the strudel up, jellyroll style as tightly as possible.
Place seem side down on the baking tray and brush with butter, sprinkling with sugar.
Slice the strudel with 4 slits, just through to the filling.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until lightly brown and juices are bubbling.

Monday, October 15, 2007

An Autumn Cake

Wow what a whirlwind month September was. Heck, so is this month for that matter. Usually by now I have baked enough to feed an army but that is not the case this year. I also lost my food guinea pigs, with the closing of Josh's office. Now where to send the goodies?

To get back into the swing of things, I chose a simple pound cake that would be comfort food and a reminder of the wonderful, cozy season we are now in. This cake comes from the October 2007 Bon Appetit and I am sure many of you have made it already.

Just some quick notes on the cake: I used Pam's Baking spray for the bundt pan and I am in love with this product. The cake slid out perfectly, no breakage at all. I also upped the amount of Maple extract to 2 tsp. and I put this in the recipe below. In my opinion, it needed even more but I like strong flavors. I also did not put in the espresso in the glaze as the original recipe called for. It seemed out of place and I am not a fan of coffee in dessert. Other than that, the cake was delicious, although quite plain. Definitely not too sweet at all. We served it last night with a small scoop of vanilla icecream and it made a wonderful dessert.

For my next project, apple strudel. I made the mistake of going to the closing Farmer's Market near my house and I now have 40lbs of apples to contend with. When will I ever learn

Brown Sugar and Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Maple Glaze

Bon Appetit October 2007

1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons maple extract
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons (or more) whipping cream

Preparation for cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 12-cup Bundt pan. Spray pan generously with nonstick spray. Dust pan lightly with flour. Mix chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons flour in medium bowl. Sift remaining flour with baking soda, baking powder, and salt into another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract and maple extract. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chip mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on rack 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.

For glaze: Combine powdered sugar, maple syrup and 2 tablespoons cream in medium bowl. Whisk until smooth, adding more cream by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to drizzle. Spoon glaze decoratively over top of cake; let stand at room temperature until glaze is firm, about 1 hour.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


So I have not disappeared off the face of the earth.
Yes, I want to bake, and very badly but the timing has not been right.
As with many bloggers, the school year is upon us. Luckily for me, I finished school years ago and do not feel the dread. My dear Josh, however, is back in night school to finish his Management degree. This means we finish work at 5pm and then sit in rush hour traffic to get him to campus by 6pm. I would love to say this has no real impact on me, other than inconvenience, but that is not so. Josh studies late at night, every night, so I pick up the household slack. Yes, a toilet brush has replaced my spatula.
Thursday we leave for Montana on our yearly jaunt to the States for Thanksgiving. Oh, how I love to shop at Target! When I am back on Tuesday, I will divulge my yummy purchases such as the new Kraft Caramel Bites I have heard so much about. Then never fear, my annual autumn baking frenzy will begin. I have many new recipes, mainly Paula Deen, to try out and blog about. Happy Thanksgiving!