Pear & Apple Butter Cake

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 presetIf you take nothing else away from this post, you must make this cake. I don’t even mean the pear and apple butter part. Just the cake part. Choose a fruit, really any fruit, and make this cake. It’s so simple: flour, butter, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Fruit topped with lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar.

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Processed with VSCOcam with f3 presetWhile this cake was in the oven, I stood in the kitchen and didn’t do anything other than smell.  The cinnamon, pears, and apple butter smells just like fall–apple picking, the state fair, sweaters, and new socks. (Is new sock smell a thing? I think it is, but I’m also a total sock snob.)

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UntitledI’m already planning how to switch this cake up for every season. Blackberries, raspberries, figs, and peaches for summer, cranberries, pomegranate, and persimmons for winter, strawberries and rhubarb for spring. This cake’s buttery, crunchy crust and slightly sweet, moist inside is maybe the most delicious thing I’ve ever encountered. It’s amazing how much we can complicate things–cake should be so simple. This is the cake I’ve been missing, no doubt.

Also, we need to talk apple butter for a minute. I made this apple butter in the crock pot. It’s so easy, I don’t even feel right about making it into its own post. (6.5 lbs apples (peeled, cored, and sliced thin), 3/4 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 T cinnamon, 1 t nutmeg, 1 t cloves, 1 t cardamom, 1/2 t salt, 1 t vanilla extract. 10 hours in the crock pot, stir occasionally, then blend either with an immersion blender or in batches in regular blender. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water to seal. Don’t tell anyone how easy it was.)

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 presetBefore I get to the recipe, check this out! I’m going to start including printable PDFs for all my recipes, and I’m gonna try to keep them all on one page. There’s nothing more annoying than trying to print a recipe and it says it’s gonna be 17 pages because each picture is on its own page, and the actual recipe only takes 1. Or worse, the recipe fits on one page, but then the printer wants to print a second page with just the URL on it. UGH! I’m gonna try to make sure that doesn’t happen. All you have to do is look for the “Print Recipe” option, click on it, and boom! The PDF will download and you print it!

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Pear & Apple Butter Cake
{Print Recipe}

Cake:

1 cup all purpose flour

hefty pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

 

Topping:

1 pear, sliced thin

4 Tablespoons apple butter

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Then, slowly pour the dry ingredients into the bowl while the mixer is on low.  Mix until just incorporated (not too long!) and finish it off with a spatula.

Scoop the batter out of the bowl and into the cake pan. With the spatula, smooth it out and push it to the sides so that the batter is in an even layer.

Spoon the apple butter on top of the batter. It’s okay if there are drops that are bigger than others. You want plain cake to stay uncovered. Then, arrange the pear slices however you’d like. Next, sprinkle the lemon juice over top of the pears, followed by the cinnamon, and then the sugar.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 30-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into a cakey part comes out clean.

Serve warm with coffee for breakfast, snacks, or dessert.

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Malted Pumpkin Brown Butter Donuts

donut in hand // a bushel and a peckLast year, I bought a donut pan to make baked donuts in. At the time, I thought that maybe it was an impulse buy that I would come to regret, but BOY was I wrong. All the recipes that are meant to be muffins can be cake donuts, and they should be. (Alternatively, if you don’t have a donut pan, these can also be muffins. But what you should really do is order one.)

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 presetThese pumpkin donuts are a little sweet, dense, and moist. The malted milk powder makes them a little more interesting than you’d think, and the brown butter is just perfect. This is the perfect kind of project for a Sunday morning–maybe you’re a little sleepy, not interested in dealing with things like bacon or eggs or pancakes. All this takes is a little bit of mixing, spooning into a pan, and baking. With the weather cooling down, a warm donut and cup of coffee is just the best idea ever.

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 presetThe coating is a little more browned butter, and then cinnamon sugar. It’s a little indulgent, admittedly, but worth it, I promise. These become the sort of breakfast treat that will win over colleagues, neighbors, and surly family members, and a little extra sugar is just part of that deal.

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 presetHere’s the recipe:
(Adapted from Take A Megabite)

Yields 6 donuts

1 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons malted milk powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned

For the Spiced Sugar + Brown Butter Coating:
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned

Preheat the oven to 325˚F and spray your donut pan lightly with cooking spray.

Brown the butter for the donuts in a skillet over medium heat until the butter separates and the solids become a deep brown and smell nutty and delicious. Pour the browned butter into a ramekin and set aside to cool. (You have to get it out of the hot pan or it will burn.)

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In a mixing bowl combine the flour, malt powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Whisk to blend. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture, followed by the brown butter, fold until just combined. Either spoon or pipe the batter about halfway up the donut pan molds and bake in the center of the oven for 6-7 minutes. Donuts are done when the tops are dry and spring back to the touch. Remove from oven and cool on a rack slightly before turning out. Brown the butter for coating while the donuts bake.

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In a wide dish whisk together the sugar and spices for the coating, brush the baked donuts with browned butter and roll in the spiced sugar to coat completely.

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Classic Yeasted Cinnamon Rolls

DSC_1371I’ve never made real cinnamon rolls with yeast before these, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. Admittedly, this represents a life of luxury that is 100% untenable, but I decided while eating one of these cinnamon rolls that I would never eat anything else. Terrible, terrible idea, but I was ready to give up everything for those swirls of cinnamon sugar. Instead, I thought it wise to eat one and then foist them on my coworkers–spread the wealth or something like that.

DSC_1282Yeasted cinnamon rolls are one of those things that just require a lot of time and attention. The dough is sticky and finnicky, and it has to rise twice–not to mention the rolling out, rolling up, and cutting of the rolls themselves. It’s the sort of thing that you should do the night before, or aim for brunch. You need coffee before tackling this project.

DSC_1296Because cinnamon rolls are such a time-consuming endeavor, you’ll have lots of time to read a book, catch a nap, or troll celebrity gossip websites while you wait for the dough to rise. Not that I know anything about trolling celebrity gossip, that’s just an example. This is also the kind of breakfast that will impress the pants off of people, so plan to take these puppies out!

DSC_1297Be warned: health food they are not. Butter and brown sugar are doing the real work, and the cinnamon offers its classic spiciness to the mix.

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DSC_1313By the time you’ve done all the proper waiting, and you’re just putting the pan of rolls into the oven, you’ll find ourself really, really hoping that they turn out okay. I mean, you’ve spent a lot of time making sure that you did all the right steps, you’ve already had to clean the table twice, your stomach is grumbling, and you’re maybe going to be late to brunch. But by the time you sit back down to your celeb gossip (ahem BOOK ahem), you’ll catch a whiff of the bubbly sugar, and you’ll know that you made the right choice.

DSC_1374Yeasted Cinnamon Rolls:
(adapted from Joy the Baker and Smitten Kitchen)

Dough
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one envelope)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Filling
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt

Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To begin, melt the butter for the dough in the microwave (or in a pot if you want to get all fancy). Then, combine the melted butter with the milk, and microwave both for 30-45 seconds, or until the mixture is warm. It should be between 105 and 115 degrees F, so it should feel warmer than your finger, but not hot. Combine the milk with the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Then, add one cup of the flour, the salt, sugar, and egg. Mix vigorously for a minute or until completely combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment.

Slowly add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on low speed. When the dough is pulling away from the walls of the bowl and is not very sticky to the touch, take it out of the mixer, make it into a neat ball, and plop it into another bowl, coated with cooking spray. Turn the ball over once to cover it in oil, then cover the bowl gently with a tea towel and place it in a warm spot.

Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, prep the filling. Make sure your butter is coming to room temperature, and mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

When it’s done rising, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a roughly rectangular shape. It should be about a quarter-inch thick. Using a butter knife of spatula, gently spread the room-temperature butter on the dough, leaving about a half-inch around the edges. Then, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the butter.

Using your fingers, start rolling from the long side of the dough rectangle, and be sure to gently pinch the roll together to keep it tightly rolled. When you’re done, place the seam side down on the table. Measure one inch increment on the log, and then use a sharp serrated knife to cut the rolls.

Place the rolls into a greased 8×8 baking dish. You should be able to fit nine, but it will be snug. For me, this recipe seems to make about a pan and a half (12-14 rolls). When they’re all in, cover the pans with a tea towel for their second rise. This time, they will almost double again, but it will take only 45-55 minutes. Make sure you give them time, the second rise is what makes them fluffy.

When they’re done rising again, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake the rolls for 20 minutes, or until browned on top.

While the rolls are cooling, put the glaze together. Mix the room temperature butter and cream cheese with the powdered sugar and vanilla. That’s it!

Let the pans cool for at least 20 minutes, then glaze and serve (with coffee and a nap)!

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Charred Hatch Chile and Corn Breakfast Casserole

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I have to confess: I’ve been on blog vacation big time this summer. I’ve made delicious things on the grill and not shared them with you. I’ve been on vacations and taken only iPhone photos, and I’ve let many fancy summery meals and cocktails go by without bothering to document them. To be honest, it has been the best. But, I’m ready to be back. I have a list of things that I want to make that just can’t wait anymore. It’s back to to school time, and for me, back to blog time. That said, there is still a little summer left, and I intend to make the most of it.

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This breakfast casserole is everything you need in a back to school breakfast casserole. It’s cheesy, bacon-y, and in season with its charred corn and chiles. The charred flavor is almost reminiscent of the fair–the crisp air, buttery corn, and food cooked over open flames. It’s like a nice introduction to the season without jumping right in to pumpkin pies and fuzzy socks. It’s also easy enough to make the day before. I’d store the egg mixture in a big tupperware rather than the pan you’ll bake it in–unless you’re really good at not sloshing.

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If you’ve never had fresh hatch chiles, they’re on sale right now at the grocery stores. They apparently only have a really short season, and they only grow in one place–the Hatch Valley in New Mexico. They’re a big, green, relatively mild pepper that is generally a little curvy. They’re sort of a cross between a green bell pepper and a jalapeño in spice level, but they have a really fantastic flavor. Often the roasted green chiles that you can find canned at the grocery store are hatch chiles, and they do make a fine replacement in this casserole.

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Here’s the recipe
yields 6 generous servings in an 8×8 casserole dish

1 ear of corn, charred and cut off the cob
2 hatch chiles, peeled and diced
2 large eggs
4 strips bacon, cooked and diced
3 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (3/4 cup)
3 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
dash of cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

First things first: char the corn and chiles. If you have a gas burner, high five! This is really easy for you. Just put the corn and peppers (one at a time) directly on the pot rest and turn on a medium flame. For the corn, just let it blacken here and there, rotating it with tongs, until it’s evenly charred. For the peppers, let them blister and brown all over, constantly turning them. When you take them off the heat, but them directly into a brown paper bag and close the top. Let them cool for 10 minutes or so. When they’re done cooling, you should be able to peel off the skins really easily, revealing soft flesh, which you then cut open, remove the seeds, and dice. If you don’t have a gas stove, don’t despair! You can always do this on the grill, but I wouldn’t build a charcoal fire for just this. If you have a gas grill, this is your best bet. If not, use the broiler in your oven. Same idea, just put everything on a cookie sheet and turn it often, watching carefully. It’ll take a little longer, but will be just as good.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When you’ve finished cooking the bacon, charring the corn and chiles, you’re ready to assemble. Mix together all of the ingredients, including eggs, flour, milk, cheese, chiles, bacon, corn, salt, cumin, and pepper. Pour the mixture into a greased 8×8 baking dish and put it on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the casserole is set. Let stand for 15 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

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Blueberry Waffles

What’s your idea of an ideal Saturday? Mine totally involves two pots of coffee–one early and one a few hours later, after breakfast. There should also be waffles. Waffles are one of those things that you can do a million different ways: almond flour or buckwheat flour make hearty, earthy waffles. White flour and buttermilk make fluffy waffles that are the perfect vehicle for nuts, fruit, or even chocolate chips. This time, I went blueberry. Simple, classic, and easy.DSC_0411On this particular Saturday morning, I got up early and piddled around the house, cleaning halfheartedly and working my way through pot of coffee number one with Jason. At about seven, he left for work and I sat down to decide what to make for breakfast. I finally decided on blueberry waffles, turned on the audiobook that I’ve been listening to, and got to work.  Continue reading

Blue Corn Muffins with Honey Butter

DSC_0131Growing up, my mom made corn muffins and my dad made cornbread. There is so totally absolutely a difference–cornbread is not sweet, it pretty dry, and you make it in a cast iron skillet. Corn muffins, however, are a little sweet, more moist, and can have actual corn kernels in them. I love both cornbread and corn muffins. They both serve their own purposes, and I appreciate both for their own qualities. These corn muffins, made with blue cornmeal, are soft on one hand, crunchy on the other. They have a little bit of sweetness from the corn and a tiny bit of sugar. They’re breakfast or dinner. And the honey butter, oh my God. Honey and butter belong together. It’s a match made in heaven. Continue reading

Juicing for Amateurs

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Let’s talk about juicing. But before you do that thing where you’re like, “Juicing? Not for me, no thanks,” just put that away and let’s talk. Juicing is a little earthy-crunchy, sure, but it’s also delicious and really absurdly good for you. You can pack the nutrients from some real powerhouse fruits and veggies into a glass and suck it down on the way to work/school/wherever you’re going, which is pretty cool! I hear you out there with your juice concerns, but stick with me. We’re gonna talk about three different juices that I think serve three different purposes. Also, basic info: all three are best served over ice and with a straw.

DSC_0365The first juice we’re making is Beet-Carrot-Apple-Orange-Lemon. That’s one small beet, three carrots, one green apple, one peeled orange, and one meyer lemon, cut in half. This juice is rich, velvety, and really great for breakfast. It’ll keep you full until lunch, no problem. It will also make you feel really, really good. I know that sounds like juicing mumbo-jumbo-hocus-pocus, but I’m for real. It’s easier to concentrate with this juice under your belt.

There are also a lot of substitutes available here. I usually add ginger to this one (just an inch of raw, un-peeled ginger), but I didn’t have any on hand today. You could add grapefruit, other kinds of apples, or even some spinach or kale to sneak in some other veggies. Also, herbs are good for juicing, and I say mint might be nice addition to this juice.

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We should stop here and talk about beet people. You either are a beet person or you’re totally not a beet person. If you are a beet person, you get it. Beets are wonderful. They’re earthy and sweet. They’re velvety and the most lovely color you’ve ever seen. I am a beet person. If you are also a beet person, you need to know about juicing beets. It’s a beet in a whole new way. A beet in a glass! Really, though, you should make this happen in your lives, beet people. (As for you non-beeters, I don’t know what to tell you.)

DSC_0368Up next, Kale-Cucumber-Apple-Lime-Parsley-Celery. This juice is a classic green juice. Vegetable-heavy with apple for sweetness, and parsley and lime to impart some flavor to otherwise water-heavy veggies like celery and cucumber. I like to drink this one after lunch during my three o’clock slump. It’s hydrating with a little extra kick of green-goodness.

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The substitutions here are endless. For the greens: spinach, mixed greens, arugula, swiss chard, romaine. Consider also cilantro, fennel, or even ginger. The parsley in this juice is really nice, but if cilantro is a big thing for you, it’s perfect here, too.

DSC_0372Last one: Apple-Blueberry-Blackberry-Lime. This one is just for fun. It’s delicious mixed with seltzer water and served over ice. Due to the blackberries, this juice is a little thicker than the others, and obviously sweeter. It’s a good treat after dinner, or maybe while you cook dinner. It’s best in smaller doses (lots of sugar) and can also be made with plenty of other fruits.

DSC_0399Strawberries? Pears? Really any fruit-heavy juice is good for this kind of juice. Also, don’t try to juice a banana. It’s not a thing. I mean, have you ever seen banana juice? Take a hint. It’ll just make a gommy mess in your juicer.

Okay, last thing. Juicers are really expensive. I’m currently using my mom’s, but I totally wouldn’t be able to buy one for myself. I’d try to borrow one or find a gently used one for cheaper before you took the big leap. It’s good to know what you like before you commit. Play around with lots of different things–even things you don’t think will be good together. I’ve made plenty of mistakes–the other day I tried some grapefruit/kale concoction that was truly revolting. You’ll get the hang of how to balance fruits and vegetables, and then you’ll be unstoppable!