Almost There

cake, apple cake, fall

Apple Butter Spice Cake with Cream Cheese frosting. Somewhat similar to last year’s cupcakes.

It’s hard to believe that in less than a week the Bear will be 2. Having kids does make the world spin a little faster…ok, a lot faster. He’s so fun right now though, I wish we could slow things down just a little bit. The twos really aren’t that terrible as most would have you believe. I’m pretty sure the people who say that have never had close dealings with a three year old. Having two older nephews has really informed my experience with my own son. Even though he’s en entirely different person, and the feelings are so different because he’s mine, I’m glad that I was able experience a facsimile of child rearing before diving in on my own. From experience I can say that three when the personality and sass really shine through. We’re ready, though. We’re ready for the Bear to continue to grow and learn and refuse to eat vegetables. We’re ready for him to teach us things while we teach him numbers and letters, shapes and colors, and manners and patience.

My dad and stepmom stopped by for a quick visit this past weekend so we had a celebration where I successfully made my first meatloaf. We also enjoyed some apple cake and Bear received several Eric Carle books and some other presents. I think my favorite was the little baseball glove since now he runs around with it shouting, “I got it! I got it!”

Mama, I don't know about this cake, but the frosting is awesome

Mama, I don’t know about this cake, but the frosting is awesome

Books!

Books!

Is this heaven? Do I need a haircut?

Is this heaven? Do I need a haircut?

How does this work?

How does this work?

I GOT IT!

I GOT IT!

Story time with Pop

Story time with Pop

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Sunday Breakfast

I don’t know what your ideal Sunday looks like, but mine includes watching drinking coffee, watching Sunday Morning, a little knitting, reading the Sunday New York Times, and eating some sort of delicious treat. That’s where these doughnuts come in. I posted them in my Friday roundup, only to realize late Saturday night that I had no powdered sugar on hand. No bother! Instead I consulted this recipe and combined the two. Cinnamon has been a huge craving through this whole pregnancy, and waking up to the first nips of fall in the air demanded it’s spicy sweetness. The brown butter gives added depth and balances out the sugar coating. Besides, Joy and Tracy are great friends, and uniting their recipes is something cooking and baking is all about, sharing, adapting, and enjoying.  Even the Bear, aka pickiest eater ever, enjoyed a few bites.

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The doughnuts are lightly sweet, but the real sweetness comes from the coating. Here are some instructions on how to brown butter. Don’t have buttermilk? Just combine 1/2C whole milk with 1 1/2T distilled white vinegar. Let it sit while you combine the other ingredients and it will be clabbered when it’s time to mix the wet stuff. I browned all the butter at once and divided it.  2T for the doughnuts, and 4T for the coating. You may want to round up to 7T to make sure you have exactly 6T in the end, but I found that to be unnecessary.

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts with Brown Butter (adapted slightly from Joy the Baker and Shutterbean) makes 6

Doughnuts:

1C all purpose flour

3/4t baking powder

1/4t baking soda

1/2t salt

1/2t ground cinnamon

1/4t freshly grated nutmeg

1/3C sugar

1 lg egg

1/2C buttermilk

6T butter, browned and cooled, divided (see note above)

1t vanilla extract

Coating:

1/2C sugar

1t cinnamon

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Lightly grease a 6 doughnut pan.

2) In a small pot brown all the butter and allow to cool slightly.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Set aside.

4) Whisk together egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and 2T of the browned butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined.

5) Fill the doughnut pan with the batter (I just use a regular spoon for this). You want the well to be about 3/4 full.

6) While the doughnuts bake, whisk together cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.

7) Bake doughnuts for 10-12 min. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan a few minutes before removing. Once out of the pan brush remainder of butter on doughnuts and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture.

8) Enjoy warm.

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Kitchen Roundup

After being on the road for a few weeks, one of the best things about getting to our new house has been settling into our new kitchen. It has a lot more functional counterspace than our last place, the oven works properly, and there’s more storage (through I’m still figuring out the best way to lay everything out). Since becoming a more diverse canner is one of my goals this I’ve been busy visiting local farmers markets and trying all manner of new pickles, jams, and salsas. I also bought a new sourdough starter from King Arthur flour and have so far tried my hand at pretzels, waffles, and english muffins. Not everything has been a success (just now I burned some of the english muffins…oops), but after a month of not really cooking at all these past few weeks have been a welcome change of pace.

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Santa Rosa plums, red plums, and pluots getting ready to be jammed

Plums were on sale at the commissary so I also made plum muffins from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Plums were on sale at the commissary so I also made plum muffins from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

DB started on some Creme de Menthe

DB started on some Creme de Menthe

Almond meal (leftover from making almond milk)

Almond meal (leftover from making almond milk)

Banana Bread with Coconut and Pecans

P1010751Banana bread. Man, some people really go wild over the stuff, and for good reason. It’s a great way to use up some old bananas, you can adapt it to your tastes and since it has fruit and it’s called “bread” and not “cake”, you can tell yourself it’s healthy while you cut off an extra large piece do down with your coffee. One thing that has always bothered me though, those ripe bananas? We pretty much never have them. Bananas go fast around here. I have on more than one occassion found myself wanting to make a banana bread, only to find we are once again out. What to do? Roast the bananas of course! It’s an extra step that really takes the banana flavor to the next level. Plus, you can make it as soon as you bring your bananas home and cling to the desperate hope that they’ll be brown enough before they’re gobbled up.P1010745

I’ve been on a huge coconut kick lately. I used to hate the stuff, but I think that has to do with the unfortunate trend of adorning carrot cake with grated coconut for no good reason. I say no good reason because I never found it to enhance the cake, and as a kid, I always found the stuff scratchy on my throat which just ruined the whole experience. Fast forward a good 20+ years and I’ve come around to the stuff. I like in in things, where it can lend a hint of nuttiness and exotic aroma without overpowering the whole piece. Plus, it’s supposed to be one of those new hot foods that is super good for you. I’m no expert, but regardless of the potential health benefits, I can tell you that the addition to this banana bread gave it a subtle dimension of flavor that I’m really enjoying with my afternoon tea. P1010743

I saw this recipe over on the Shutterbean recently. Tracy uses olive oil as I have done here, but I think you could probably try it with coconut oil instead. Also, making this has highlighted the fact that my loaf pan (10″) is waaay to big and I should invest in an 8″-9″ one instead.P1010746

Banana Bread with Coconut and Pecans (adapted from Shutterbean)

3 medium bananas

3/4C all-purpose flour

1/2C whole wheat flour

1/4C flax seed meal

1/4C shredded coconut

1t baking powder

1t fine grain sea salt

1/2t ground cinnamon

1/2C olive oil

1/2C light brown sugar (lightly packed)

1/4C maple syrup

1 1/2t vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2C Greek yogurt

1/2C toasted pecans, chopped (optional)

To roast the bananas:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) Place bananas on rimmed baking sheet, and roast 20-25 minutes, until black

2) Set aside on cooling rack and allow to cool slightly

To make the bread:

Keep oven preheated at 350 degrees.

Butter an 8″ x 4″ loaf pan and place a piece of parchment inside, slightly hanging over the side so you can easily remove the bread.

1) In a medium bowl whisk together flours, flaxseed meal, coconut, salt, baking powder, and spices.

2) In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil and brown sugar until smooth. Add the maple syrup and vanilla, whisk to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine after each addition.

3) By now your bananas should be cool enough to handle (too hot and they’ll cook the eggs when combined). Remove the bananas from their skins and mash in a small bowl. Mix the bananas and yogurt with the rest of the dry ingredients.

4) Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined. Fold in the nuts if using. Batter will be slightly lumpy.

5) Spread batter evenly into prepared loaf pan and bake approximately 45-60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan and then remove using the parchment handles.

Kitchen Round-Up

It’s been a while since I spent any real time in the kitchen. Usually, there’s a mad cacophony of plates and pans, flours and sugars, herbs and spices, kitchen things and more kitchen things. But I took a break for a couple months, kept things super simple, ate a few store bought rotisserie chickens. It was a good break. It gave me time to acquire a few new cookbooks, go through quite a pile of magazines, and return to my kitchen inspired and ready to get back into the homemade.

Here’s how it went:

Maple meringues

Maple meringues made with left over egg whites from an ice cream fail

Hazelnut butter! Great on toast or in sandwiches with preserves.

Hazelnut butter! Great on toast or in sandwiches with preserves.

Cherry almond baked oatmeal. Delicious, but still tweaking the recipe for this one.

Cherry almond baked oatmeal. Delicious, but still tweaking the recipe for this one.

 

Life changing bread. I don't know that it's been life changing for me, but it was a good way to use up lots of nuts and seeds. It's filling and makes great toast as promised.

Life changing bread. I don’t know that it’s been life changing for me, but it was a good way to use up lots of nuts and seeds. It’s filling and makes great toast as promised.

Basil infused olive oil. I love having this on hand for homemade pizza and pesto.

Basil infused olive oil. I love having this on hand for homemade pizza and pesto.

Oh look! Pesto! Spinach, almonds, pine nuts,  with the basil oil. The Bear even enjoyed a bit of this.

Oh look! Pesto! Spinach, almonds, pine nuts, with the basil oil. The Bear even enjoyed a bit of this.

Brown sugar pound cake. I can't speak for the final product just yet, but the batter tasted amazing. (batter is calorie free...right?)

Brown sugar pound cake. I can’t speak for the final product just yet, but the batter tasted amazing. (batter is calorie free…right?)

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy, but True!

So, it happened. The Bear turned a year old recently, and it seems that DB and I have survived virtually unscathed and better for the wear overall. Like everyone says, it does go by fast. I still remember holding his pink little body in my arms, and now I am chasing after him as crawls with great speed and now tries to walk.

Overall, we enjoyed a low key day. A big lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant where the Bear enjoyed massive amounts of guacamole and Mama and Daddy enjoyed a margarita to celebrate a successful first year of parenthood. Our bellies ripe with carnitas, we headed home for a long nap and then it was time for cake.

Here Daddy, try some cake

Since the Bear is such a huge fan of applesauce I made him  spiced applesauce cupcakes adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Since it’s just the three of us, (and I prefer using my Breville over our old and inaccurate large oven) I halved the recipe and used  roasted cinnamon applesauce from a recipe in Start Fresh (every mom needs a good applesauce recipe and this is mine. It’s virtually hands free!). I recommend making the full amount of frosting. I didn’t and so we had unfrosted (though still delicious cupcakes the following day)

Spiced Applesauce Cupcakes (makes 6)

For applesauce (adapted from Start Fresh by Tyler Florence)

  • 3-4 medium sized apples
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • couple drops fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve and core apples. Place cut side down on baking sheet lined with foil and roast for ~17 minutes. Let apples cool slightly then transfer to food processor and add cinnamon an lemon juice. Process until sauce reaches desired consistency. Once completely cooled sauce can be store in airtight container in the fridge for about 3-4 days (though we usually go through it much faster)

For cupcakes (adapted from Spiced Applesauce Cake by Smitten Kitchen)

  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (there is already cinnamon in the applesauce I make, so add based on personal preference)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup roasted applesauce

For frosting

  • 5 ounces cream cheese, softened (about 3/4 of cream cheese package)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • up to 1 cup confectioners sugar (this is based on how sweet you want the frosting)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 6 cup cupcake pan.

Make cake: Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg, then beat in applesauce. Stir in flour mixture until just combined

Distribute batter into cupcake tin. I used an ice cream scoop and filled them about 5/8-7/8 full, they don’t rise too much. Bake for ~15 min.

Make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add cinnamon and sift confectioners sugar  over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated, at this point taste and see if you want more sugar. Spread frosting over top of cooled cupcakes.

Birthday Cake

For the past several years, I have made my own birthday cake. This seems strange to many people, as if it is wrong for someone to make their own cake. I say, why should I be subjected to a grocery store sponge cake with sugary frosting, when for about 10 minutes of work I can enjoy a decadent double chocolate sour cream cake? (Especially nice because we have been on a diet) Of course, I think most people underestimate the actual joy of baking something and then enjoying the fruits of your label…or think it’s too complicated…or would rather just spend the ten minutes of prep time shotgunning beers, but for me, I enjoy drinking a beer while firing up the KitchenAid, or better yet, putting some beer into your cake, as has been done in years past. But that’s just me. If I had to make one alteration to the recipe it would be to use a cup of Guinness with instant espresso powder mixed in, instead of the cup of strong coffee called for by the recipe. I will report back once this iteration is tested.

I turned 29 a couple weeks ago. I have a list of things to accomplish this year that go beyond enjoying a chocolatey cake with a fancy coffee drink. Some of them are boring career-oriented things that I won’t bother boring you with. Others, like bread baking, canning, knitting socks, and visited several national parks, will be popping up pretty frequently around here. So I hope you enjoy them, and consider making yourself a delicious chocolate cake soon…even if it’s not your birthday.