Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cranberry Snacking Cake

I always end up with leftover fresh cranberries after Thanksgiving.  I buy more than I need for fear that they will sell out like they did a few years ago in this area, so then I have extra in the fridge that usually shrivel up into craisins in the back of the produce drawer.  I could freeze them but never remember in time.

This recipe is based on a recipe I found for cranberry torte in Wintersweet by Tammy Donroe Inman, still my favorite cookbook focusing on winter ingredients in baked goods. I made a few tweaks and it is my version of the recipe you will see below.

Cranberry Snacking Cake

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
splash of Amaretto
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained (or whatever is left in the bag)
1/2 cup - 1 cup chopped nuts, optional (I had pecans leftover from another recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare a 9" springform pan or a 9" square pan. (A 9" cake pan can be used but if it's anything like what I used, you will end up with a few renegade cranberries gleefully tumbling to the bottom of the oven, coated in sugary batter.)

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition. Mix in Amaretto. Briefly blend in dry ingredients. By hand, stir in cranberries and nuts.

Bake 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

This is a delicious, chewy-crunchy cake.  I sprinkled it with white coarse sugar before baking just for kicks.  I will be having this for breakfast, and refuse to be ashamed!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Paleo Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Pecan Muffins

I have a cranberry nut bread that is a Thanksgiving staple in my family.  I made a loaf yesterday, to give to the family who invited us over for the holiday meal!  This morning I was craving this bread but didn't want to make something just for me.  Poking around, I came across a paleo cranberry orange muffin recipe that I tweaked slightly for our breakfast.  These were great muffins!

Paleo Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Pecan Muffins

Yield: 8-9 muffins


2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 orange (optional)
3 eggs
1/4 cup coconut sugar (you can use honey, we just like a bit lower sugar version)
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or any nut)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease or line muffin tin. 
  2. Combine dry ingredients and orange zest in large bowl.
  3. Combine wet ingredients in medium bowl. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then fold in cranberries and nuts.
  4. Using a large ice cream or cookie scoop, fill muffin cups 3/4 full. 
  5. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 
  6. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

We were invited over to a friend's home for Thanksgiving, and in our discussion about food, she mentioned her mother usually makes the rolls, but she will not be there.

"I can bring rolls!" I said.

Later, when I got home and started thinking about everything I said I'd bring, I realized I have never in my life made rolls.  It is possible I have made everything but rolls.  I did a little research and picked two recipes out - pumpkin dinner rolls shaped like pumpkins and Alex Guarnaschelli's Parker House rolls.  I got enough butter and flour to make both recipes on Saturday, but ended up liking the pumpkin rolls well enough to just stop there. 

As far as shaping rolls like pumpkins, well, they're cute and would look nice in a basket, but they are a bunch more work, something not a lot of us have time for around Thanksgiving.  And they can't function as much like biscuits when they have slices around the sides.  So when I bring pumpkin dinner rolls on Thanksgiving, they will just look like rolls.  Rolls with a vivid yellow color due to the pumpkin in the dough, which I think it just beautiful. I also like that part of the roll that is feathery from the rolls being baked next to one another. They will be fantastic with apple butter, I think.

I know which desserts I'm making, but now I need to figure out something green to bring. Any ideas?

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Recipe from Beyond Kimchee, based on a recipe from Delicious Dishes

  • ¾ cup whole milk, scalded
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (1/2 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 15-20 pecan halves, sliced into 3 vertical sections
  • ¼ cup melted butter, optional 
  1. Pour hot milk in a mixing bowl, add butter and stir to melt. Add sugars, pumpkin puree, salt to the milk and combine well.
  2. In a small bowl proof yeast in a lukewarm water with a teaspoon sugar. When it gets foamy add to the pumpkin mixture, and add the egg, mix well.
  3. Add in flour gradually and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. The dough will be sticky.
  4. If using electric mixer, attach a dough hook and beat the mixture until the dough itself pulls from the side of the bowl.
  5. Turn the dough out to a wooden board dusted with a little flour. Knead with hand for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball shape, place in a greased bowl and cover with a cloth. Let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 1 hr.
  6. Punch the dough to deflate and knead it for a few seconds on a wooden board. Cut the dough in half. Cut each half into about 15 pieces.
  7. Roll each piece into a ball shape with your hand. Flatten the piece with palm of your hand a little. Using a knife, give 8 cuts on the edge to mimic flower pedals but the leave center uncut.
  8. Poke the center with your finger to give a deep indentation, and repeat the same procedure to all the other pieces.
  9. Place them, 2" apart, on a baking pan lined with parchment paper or baking mat, and let them rise again to be doubled, about 45 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven 350ºF for 20 minutes.
  11. If the center indentation is not obvious on the rolls, poke them again with your finger.
  12. Brush with egg wash, if you wish, and bake for 9-12 minutes until the top gets slightly golden.
  13. Brush the rolls with melted butter or a little honey diluted with water to make it shine if you wish.
  14. Insert pecan slices on top to mimic pumpkin stem.
  15. If you make these into regular rolls, they will need a bit more baking time. Just keeping watching them!  I think I did about 15-16 minutes.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Pumpkin Praline Cake

Warning: You must read this recipe carefully or you will be spending time cleaning out your oven the way I have done this week.  :)

When made properly, this pumpkin praline cake should look more like an upside down cake, a beautiful praline that starts on the bottom of the pan topping the beautiful layers of the cake.  When made improperly, the batter forces the praline mixture up and over the sides of the pan into the bottom of your oven.  It still tastes good and can end up looking like a beautiful design for the side of the cake (as pictured), but keeping the praline in the pan is the best way to go! Don't bake like me, and learn from my mistakes!

Even with mistakes, this recipe is good.  I had people exclaiming over its moistness and flavor (although this could also be a result of taking it out 10 minutes early due to the smoke pouring out of my oven.)

This recipe comes from the Almost Home Tearoom cookbook, from Greencastle, Indiana.  I worked there making desserts for a year or so before going back to grad school, and this was a hugely popular cake in the autumn months. 

Praline-Pumpkin Cake

Combine in a heavy saucepan:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter*
1/4 cup whipping cream

Cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. Pour into two 9x1.5 round baking pans. (Jenny's note: Please line the pans with parchment paper or you will have a plating disaster.)

Sprinkle with:
3/4 cup chopped pecans

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

In a separate bowl, beat:
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cup sugar

Add to egg mixture alternately with dry ingredients:
2 cups pumpkin (Jenny's note - I start and end with dry)

Carefully** spoon over praline mixture in pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until done. Cool five minutes.*** Invert pans onto wire rack. Stack cake layers when cool.

Drizzle with heated mixture of:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp milk

Yields 12 servings

*(recipe says margarine, I wonder if that would have stopped my problem, hmm)
** SHE MEANS CAREFULLY.  The idea is to get the batter on top of the praline.
*** Do not wait longer than this or the praline mixture will cement the cake to the pan.