Monday, November 28, 2016

Chocolate-Pumpkin Swirl Bread

I don't watch the Food Network or Cooking Channel much anymore; I pretty much stopped when they stopped putting chefs on and started filling it with reality tv and competitions. But every once in a while I'll watch shows like Brunch with Bobby, which is where I got this recipe. I made it to bring to work the few days we all had to work before Thanksgiving break. It was delicious! Bobby also makes a marmalade butter to go on this, but that didn't sound good to me. It was rich enough as is.

Chocolate-Pumpkin Swirl Bread
(Recipe from 

Butter or nonstick cooking spray, for the pan
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter, or spray with nonstick spray; set aside.

Combine the flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and fine salt in a medium bowl.

Place the sugar and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until well combined (it'll look like wet sand), about 1 minute.

Turn the mixer to medium speed and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low, add the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract, and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and drizzle the melted chocolate evenly over the batter.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate into the batter until it's just swirled in. (Be careful not to fully incorporate the chocolate into the batter--you want a marbled effect.)

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread it into an even layer. Bake until the bread is browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool another 10 minutes before slicing.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Nutmeg-Maple Cream Pie

I once made this for Thanksgiving but it never had its day in the sun. This pie deserves it! The ingredients are few and the steps are simple, so this is the pie for your best crust and quality maple syrup. Please do not substitute pancake syrup with imitation maple. It will not function in the right way.

Nutmeg-Maple Cream Pie
(recipe from the New York Times)

  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pre-baked 9-inch pie crust
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a cup or bowl with pouring spout. Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.
  3. Pour filling into crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, about 1 hour. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

I got the concept for this recipe from the Hungry Rabbit blog, which has interesting flavors and beautiful photography. As I thought about Ken's recipe, I decided to go with tried and true recipes I trust, and make a few tweaks based on his recipe.  (For instance I wanted a cake more tender than what happens with me and butter cakes, and I wanted something more silky than a cold powdered-sugar-based buttercream.) The end result is DIVINE. Even if you don't care for pumpkin spice lattes, you may still like this cake. It is definitely one of my top recipes of the year.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

The pumpkin cake is the pumpkin praline cake recipe (minus the praline elements) from the Almost Home Restaurant, a place I used to make desserts for a while when I lived in Indiana. I made a few tweaks to the recipe to help the cake tie better to the buttercream.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground or grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp instant espresso
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

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

Add to egg mixture alternately with dry ingredients:
2 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

Spoon into 2 9" round pans, prepared. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until done. Let cool 10 minutes, invert pans, and allow to cool completely.

The coffee buttercream is a silky delicious recipe originally from Nick Malgieri, the usual recipe I make for my buche de noel

Coffee Buttercream

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy

Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled (10-15 minutes.) Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

If at any point the mixture appears curdled, keep beating! It will all come back together and be shiny and smooth.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Make America Cake Again: Historical Election Cake

I have had election cake marked to try ever since I was doing research on baked goods associated with each state. But in this election year, it seemed like the appropriate time. I don't often mix baking with politics, except for that time I was trying to start a trend to Take Back the Tea Party.

When I started poking around the internet again, I saw a surge in recent news stories and blog posts about Election Cake. NPR interviewed the two bakers from the OWL Bakery in Asheville, NC, who are leading the charge. Asheville is only an hour north of me, so I felt a greater kinship with their project.

That also helped me pick a recipe, too. The OWL version incorporates local ingredients and natural leavening. I will post their version with my own modifications below.

I found others on Serious Eats and What's Cooking America, all versions of the often cited original recipe. one that came before women had the right to vote, before baking powder, and in an era when voting was a party. Women would bake cakes and bring booze to coax the rich white landowner voting types to cast their ballots. Voting was more of a party and less of a drag. We need to bring back this feeling to voting day, in my humble opinion. It always feels like you aren't even supposed to speak in a normal voice in the precinct.

These days, lady voters like myself can make an election cake AND stand in line to vote. While the precinct is unlikely to have any alcohol or baked goods, I can provide a cake with a little booze in it to reward coworkers who have voted. Most of the alcohol should burn off in the baking, I think? Ha. (The raisins soaked in brandy and apple flavored Jim Bean overnight.)

Election Cake

Day 1 (Prepare Preferment)
Using Sourdough Starter:

240 ml whole milk ~70º F (280 g)
¼ cup active starter — 100% hydrated (75 g)
           2 ¼ cups All Purpose or whole wheat pastry flour (280 g)

Using Instant Yeast:

275 ml milk ~70º F (320 g)
           ¼ tsp instant yeast (1 g)
           2 ¼ cups plus 2 Tbsp All Purpose or whole wheat pastry flour (320 g)
Combine milk and sourdough starter or yeast and mix thoroughly until starter or yeast is well dispersed in the milk mixture. Add flour and mix vigorously until the starter is consistent and smooth. Scrape the sides of your bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Allow your starter to ferment for 8-12 hours at room temperature. When ready to use, your preferment will have bubbles covering the surface.

Soak Dried Fruits

If you plan to use dried fruits in your cake, we recommend soaking them overnight, or for several days beforehand. Measure out your dried fruit and cover with your liquor or liquid of choice (for non-alcoholic options, try apple cider/juice, other fruit juices, or steeped teas) in a small sauce pot. Warm over low heat for a few minutes, remove from the heat, and allow to soak, covered, overnight or for several hours.

Before incorporating into your cake, strain the liquid off of the fruit. Use this fruit flavored liquid as a cordial or to make a simple glaze after the cake is baked.

Day 2 (Prepare Final Dough, Proof, and Bake)
1 cup unsalted butter (226 g)
¾ cup unrefined sugar (155 g)

2 eggs (100 g)
1/3 cup whole-milk yogurt  (85 g)
¼ cup sorghum or honey (60 g)
Preferment (560 / 635 g)

2 ¼ cups All Purpose or whole wheat pastry flour* (280 g)
2 Tbsp spice blend**  (12 g)
¼ tsp ground coriander (1 g)
¼ tsp ground black pepper (1 g)
2 tsp salt (12 g)

2 Tbsp sherry or another  - optional (30 g)
2 cups rehydrated fruit (300 g)
With a paddle attachment in a stand mixer, cream the butter very well, then add sugar, mixing until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time on medium speed. Mix in the sorghum/honey and yogurt.
Exchange the paddle with a dough hook. Add the preferment (starter or sponge) and mix until just incorporated. Combine all of the dry ingredients before adding them to liquid ingredients and mix until just incorporated, being careful not to over-mix. Gently fold in the sherry (optional) and rehydrated fruit.
Divide evenly into a bundt pan or cake rounds that have been buttered and lightly floured. OWL Bakery uses mini bundt pans, which yields 8-10 cakes. Proof for 2-4 hours, until the cake has risen by about ⅓ of its volume.
Bake at 375° F (190° C) for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F (177° C) and continue baking for about 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting and eating. You may enjoy this cake plain or topped with a simple glaze.

*Choose high extraction flour if possible
**Create a spice mixture with warm spices like ground cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, star anise, or mace.  OWL Bakery’s house spice blend is a combination of 8 spices. 

Notes from JennyBakes:

I used sour cream instead of yogurt, because that's what I had. I used half molasses/half honey in place of the sorghum. My spice blend was cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. I rehydrated my raisins in brandy and apple Jim Beam, and had meant to add some chopped apple to the batter but once I got to that stage completely forgot!

My cake was pretty dry, more like a bread. I suspect this is largely baker error, because this is my first naturally leavened cake. I covered it with a lemon-powdered sugar glaze and will let it sit a few days before bringing it to work on Election Day.