Tags: baking, dessert, holiday, pie
This Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie was my Thanksgiving dinner dessert (perfect timing!). Not having pumpkin pie with Turkey Day dinner would be considered absolutely unacceptable for my dad’s side of the family, and even though I didn’t head to Seattle to see them this year, I’m happy to carry on the W family tradition here. The texture of this pie was great…smooth and creamy (especially if you strain the filling into the crust). It’s actually a bit more dairy-heavy than I’m used to for pumpkin pie, but the spicing was nice.
Apparently this recipe works as either a pie or a more dainty tart. The recipe makes a substantial amount of filling, so especially if you chose to bake a tart, be prepared to have extra on your hands. And if you make a pie, you may need a deep-dish plate. (I used my seven-inch glass pie plate, which usually works perfectly for a half-recipe of deep-dish filling. I actually only made a third of the filling, and still had a smidge extra that I couldn’t fit into the crust.) You can always pour extra filling into custard cups and bake them in a water bath– pumpkin custards are yummy, too, and gluten-free guests won’t feel left out of the fun.
For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here on Serious Eats) or read Judy’s Gross Eats. And see Tracey’s Culinary Adventures for Normandy Apple Tart, this week’s other recipe (which I did make and will show you later in the week). Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake, chocolate
This week, we are having a rare rewind week for TWD, a chance to make-up something we missed. There was a time when I was making (and eating) layer cakes left and right. Despite the last couple of weeks, they are kind of a rarity around here now (although I wish they weren’t). In fact, I really made this cake months ago..for Easter…in case the pastel Robin Eggs didn’t give that away. Chocolate cake with a chocolate-malt buttercream…I can see why this would be a good birthday cake. Maybe my husband will make it for me next year? Yeah, probably not….I’ll have to make it for his instead.
I made a half recipe of this cake and baked it in my six-inch pans. Any time I have a cake recipe, I pay close attention to it as it bakes. Sometimes it takes just as long as the full recipe, and sometimes it takes ten minutes less….you just never know. I happened to pull this cake out of the oven at the perfect sweet spot. The cake was so moist and velvety…I wish I remembered how long it was in there for! Hopefully I can repeat that success next time. This cake recipe is really just a scaled-up version of Dorie’s Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes. It’s the same thing, but for some reason I liked it much, much more as a layer cake. I think it baked nicer in “real” cake form, but maybe it was really the pairing with the chocolate-malt buttercream that I liked so much. There were some reported troubles with the frosting, but I thought it came out just right, and it was easy to work with. I like when I can get the frosting on a cake without too much mucking about.
For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or look at The Splendid Table’s website (not sure that we had an “official” TWD host/recipe poster that particular week, as it was a recipe for the group’s second anniversary). Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll to see what everyone picked to catch up on this week!
Tags: food, vegetables
I was never the kid who picked her Brussels sprouts off the plate and threw them across the room. Nope, I’ve always liked them (bite-sized cabbages are cool!), and since in my house they’re not just a once-a-year neglected side dish, I’m always on the hunt for fun ways to fix them. Roasting is one of my favorite techniques to prepare sprouts…mostly because you can just toss them in the oven and basically leave them be while you focus on other things, but also because you get a combo of tender spouts and crunchy stray leaves. A new book that I’ve really been enjoying called All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art by Molly Stevens shows a new twist on roasted sprouts by tossing them in a dressing of brown butter, lemon juice and capers. I’ve apparently been on a brown butter kick lately, but it really does add a nutty flavor that makes things extra-special. The lemon juice and capers add a bright acidic pop to the little-bitty cabbages. I gave this recipe a trial run a couple of weeks ago, and liked it so much that I’m making it again for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.
Happy Thanksgiving! And no pie until you finish your sprouts!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers and Lemony Browned Butter– makes four servings
adapted from All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art by Molly Stevens
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, yellow or brown
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 425 degrees (400 degrees convection). If desired, line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Depending on their size, cut the Brussels sprouts in halves or quarters; you want them to be small enough to be bite-sized. Place in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the sprouts in a single layer on the baking sheet. Don’t worry if some of the leaves fall off. Include these when roasting; they will crisp up, adding a nice crunch to the dish.
- Slide the Brussels sprouts into the oven and roast, turning once or twice with a metal spatula to promote even cooking, until the sprouts are tender throughout and smaller bits or leaves that have fallen off are browned and crunchy, 20 to 25 minutes. Test for doneness by piercing a sprout with the tip of a paring knife, but to be sure, nab one off the baking sheet, let it cool slightly, and taste; it should be tender and sweet.
- As the sprouts roast, melt the butter in a small skillet or heavy saucepan (it should be no more than 6 inches across or the butter will burn). Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the mustard seeds, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, watching the pan carefully and swirling frequently, until the butter begins to foam and turns golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the capers and lemon juice — the butter will sizzle — and immediately remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and keep warm until the Brussels sprouts are ready.
- Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a serving dish and add the browned butter. Toss to coat. Taste for salt, pepper, and lemon and serve immediately.
Please note that the publisher, W.W. Norton, sent me a copy of this book.
Tags: baking, cake, holiday
I know that I’ll be making a pie for Thanksgiving dinner, so I’m getting the craving to stuff my face with cake out of the way ahead of time. I’ve actually been itching to make this Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake ever since I saw it on the cover of Fine Cooking last year. And it was everything I’d hoped for in a spice cake, complete with cream cheese frosting and a crunchy topping.
If you are ambitious, you can make your own pumpkin purée by roasting a squash. If you are lazy, like I am, you can just open a can. The canned stuff works just fine, in my opinion, and you always know what you are going to get. Anyway, you have to go through the extra step of browning butter a couple of times, so why make things too hard on yourself? Actually, making browned butter is no big deal, and it’s totally worth it in terms of flavor. It makes an especially gorgeous addition to the cream cheese frosting, giving it that slightly nutty taste and beautiful taupe color. The browned butter baked into the cake gives the pumpkin and spices extra dimension, and because you use it as a liquid fat, you mix the cake by hand. I love that! I thought about skipping the pecan and pepita topping, but I’m glad I didn’t. It’s crunchy and kind of Cracker Jackey caramelized. I can’t wait to make this again next fall (or possibly sooner…)
P.S.: Don’t forget to enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY, if you haven’t done so already….
Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake– makes 8-12 servings
adapted from Fine Cooking, Issue 107
Steph’s Notes: You can substitute 1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin purée for homemade, if you like. If you do choose to make the purée, you can do so up to 2 days ahead. The frosting amount is a bit on the skimpy side. I made it work, but there wasn’t a lot of extra play around with. If you’d like more leeway, I’d suggest a 1.5x recipe.
for the purée (if not using 1-1/2 cups canned):
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 medium-large Sugar Pie pumpkin, cut in half from stem to bottom and seeded
for the cake:
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
for the topping:
1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2/3 cup pecans
1/2 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas
2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. table salt
for the frosting:
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
pinch of salt
5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
-Make the pumpkin purée (if not using 1-1/2 cups canned): Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Brush a 9×13-inch baking dish with the oil. Put the pumpkin halves in the dish cut side down and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel the pumpkin and purée the flesh in a food processor until smooth. You’ll need 1-1/2 cups of the purée for the cake. Refrigerate or freeze any remaining purée for another use.
-Make the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms (or butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans). Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until very well blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.
-Make the topping (while the cake bakes): Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and pepitas and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pepitas begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet.
-Make the frosting: Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, brown sugar and pinch of salt on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
-Assemble the cake: Put one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread 1/2 cup of the frosting on the layer and top with the second layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Arrange the topping on top of the cake and serve. The assembled, frosted cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.
I think we’re officially in the thick of it…the season of overindulgence, that is. For me, it began with a bag of leftover Halloween candy. Before it ends in a pair of Pajama Jeans, I need to keep moderation at least somewhere in mind. Seems that a copy of a new book called Cooking Light Way to Bake fell into my hands at just the right time. I could use a little lightening up for everyday baking at this time of year, and the thing I appreciate about Cooking Light’s recipes is that they focus on getting the most out of a restrained amount ”real” ingredients rather than using weird substitutions.
This book has lots of how-to’s and runs the gamut of baked stuff– cookies, cakes pies, breads– and a few non-baked things, like pudding and pancakes, too. I am absolutely drooling over the photo of Sweet Potato-Buttered Rum Flan, but I’m starting with a pear crisp, because it’s fall and a fruit crisp sounds good right about now. Baked pears are a nice change from apples here, although I am sure you could switch the two if you wanted to. I dotted the pears with dried cranberries. The streusel topping is loose because there’s not a ton of butter and sugar to hold it together in clumps, but it is indeed crisp and very oaty. I’m sure a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top would be the jam here, but in keeping with a lighter touch, I topped this with a spoon of honey-sweetend nonfat Greek yogurt.
So, before I give you the recipe…I promised you a giveaway. The nice folks at Oxmoor House sent me a copy of this book, and they want to send one of you one, too. Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before noon on Wednesday (November 23) and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you!
***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. It selected comment 20, so congratulations to Susy of Everyday Gourmet. I’ll be contacting you soon!***
for the fruit:
7 3/4 cups cubed Bartlett or Anjou pears
1 cup golden raisins or other dried fruit
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
for the topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
1 cup regular oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of salt
4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
-Preheat oven to 375°F.
-To prepare the fruit, combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
-To prepare topping, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, and dash of salt in a small bowl; stir to combine. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles very coarse meal. Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over pear mixture. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until browned on top.
Please note that the publisher, Oxmoor House, sent me a copy of this book.
Tags: baking, dessert, tarts
This Alstatian Apple Tart made me think of cooking school. We made one very similar during my first few weeks at the FCI. That was years ago, but I liked it then and I like it now, too. In fact, it was much nicer to make it at home, where the only judge is yours truly and I don’t have to wear an annoyingly scratchy neckerchief or wobbly paper toque. It’s a pretty easy tart to make…a sweet dough, apple slices and a little custard. I lightened up the custard in the book by only using one egg (and skipping the extra yolk), using a combo of milk and cream (rather than all cream) and skimping on the sugar. My CSA is done for the year, but I’m still trying to use up the apples we got in the final couple pick-ups. I have no idea what kind they are, but they are little, have red skins and were just fine in here. Because this tart has the custard built-in, you don’t even need ice cream!
For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Jessica’s blog, cookbookhabit. And see Lethally Delicious for Bittersweet Brownies, this week’s other recipe (which I unfortunately din’t get a chance to make this week). Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, dessert, pie
I’ve noticed this Depths-of-Fall Butternut Squash Pie many times while flipping through the book. Or, I should say that I noticed the title and thought it sounded good. It wasn’t until this weekend that I actually read it and realized it is not a smoothly puréed, single crust pie similar to pumpkin. Nope, this is a pie with real character….lumpy and bumpy under the top crust because everything inside is chunky and retains its texture. It’s stuffed with a hearty combo of butternut squash, apples (or pears, which I didn’t have on hand), nuts and dried fruit. The filling reminded me of mincemeat pie, with its mix of fruit and spices (but sans the suet, thank goodness). The pie is slightly earthy, not too sweet, and totally great with vanilla ice cream!
For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also on The Splendid Table’s site) or read Valerie’s lovely blog, Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. And see Di’s Kitchen Notebook for Mini Madeleines, this week’s other recipe (which I did make and will show you later in the week). Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake, chocolate, dessert
When did weekends become all about errands and housekeeping? This weekend, in addition to the usual vacuuming, laundry and trips to the market and bank, I did some grout touch-ups to the bathroom (how do I even know how to do that??), removed and cleaned up the couple of A/C units we still had dangling out the windows and did a rather ghetto weatherproofing job to the hatch that leads from our backyard into the basement (it involved a blue tarp and some bricks). Carving out a little baking time on the weekends is a must. For me, even though there are always dishes to wash afterward, it’s pure fun.
While I’ve never been one for most fruit and chocolate combos, I can do pears and chocolate together…Poire Belle Hélène is good stuff, afterall. While I was flipping through the very sweet little book Rustic Fruit Desserts, this recipe for Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake caught my eye as a good and unusual way to use up the last of my CSA pears. Making an upside-down cake is always exciting. There’s the big revel– what’s going to happen when you turn it out of the pan?? Here’s what I got with this one: a perfectly moist and caramel-soaked chocolate cake with pears that turned a translucent, shimmering gold. I must say though, that just from tasting the raw cake batter, I knew we were in for a treat. I love the way the pears glisten in the light…this one might show up again for Christmas dinner.
Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake- makes a 9-inch cake
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson
Steph’s Note: Regarding the caramel for the fruit topping– if you have another method of making caramel that you prefer (a dry caramel, for example), feel free to use it here, keeping the amount of sugar the same. This one worked perfectly for me, but do what you are comfortable with.
for the fruit topping:
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (4 oz) water
3 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and each cut into 12 slices (1 pound prepped)
for the cake:
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
-Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter a 9-inch round cake pan (preferably not a springform one).
-To make the fruit topping, put the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan (one with a tight-fitting lid) and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then cover and cook for 2 minutes. (Covering in this way allows the steam to wash down the sides of pan, which will prevent any sugar crystals from forming.) Uncover the saucepan and continue to boil the sugar, gently and slowly swirling the pan as needed to cook the caramel evenly, until it becomes a dark amber color. Occasionally wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, if necessary. Carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan and allow it to harden. The pan will be very hot from the sugar, so take care in moving it if you need to. Fan the pear slices on top of the caramel in a circle around the perimeter, filling in the center with the remaining slices.
-To make the cake, place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and melt, stirring occasionally. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Transfer the melted chocolate to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and add the sugar. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
-Tip the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to move it to the edges and cover the fruit. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake bounces back slightly when touched. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife or small offset around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a plate, leaving the pan on top of the cake for 5 minutes before you remove it. If any pear slices stick to the pan, just lift them out and place them on top of the cake. Serve the cake warm or room temperature.
-Wrapped in plastic wrap, this cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
It’s hard to believe, but TWD is coming close to the end of the book! There are two recipes a week from now till the end of the year, but I think I’ll only be able to choose one because I can’t do much baking at home during the work week. This week, I’m making the Far Breton, chosen by Nicole of Cookies on Friday (Jeannette of The Whimsical Cupcake chose Honey Nut Scones as the other recipe). I’ve been intrigued by this one for a long time…just the name sounds so classy. And there are Armagnac-soaked prunes–yum! Falling somewhere between custard and cake, it’s made from a no-brainer batter that gets whizzed up in the blender, crêpe-style. The finished dessert actually reminded me a lot of an unmolded clafoutis. I like eggy desserts, so this was just the ticket. I also like easy desserts that are totally dinner party worthy, and this one fits that bill, too. Next time I’ll add a splash more booze.