Thursday, October 27, 2011

Everyone's Favorite Birthday Cake..........

Baking for me is a release and a relaxer but it also is a creative outlet for me. I am sort of a nerd....I love cake stands and when I bake a cake I think about the frosting and what cake stand it would look best with. I also have this dream in my head of always having a fresh cake on the counter and my kids coming home from school and having a slice of cake with a small glass of milk.

This cake fits that dream perfectly. It is a recipe from baker Matt Lewis of the Brooklyn based bakery BAKED. This is once again a bakery to add to my ever so long list in New York that I am dying to visit. This recipe is actually a recipe from Matt's grandmother which makes it that much cooler to me and I find family recipes to be the best because they have managed to stick around for a long time. This cake is so easy to make and in the same breath it has such a unique flavor and texture. The subtle hint of cinnamon in the cake itself, couples perfectly with the creamy chocolate cream cheese frosting. This cake is also so easy to handle, assemble and frost.

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for pans
All-purpose flour, for pans
1 3/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans; line with parchment-paper rounds (I just cut my own). Butter parchment paper and lightly dust pans with all-purpose flour, shaking out excess. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Next add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low; then add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour mixture, making sure to scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Each oven bakes differently and over baking can ruin a cake, so for the first time watch the cake closely the last 10-15 minutes to make sure it is not in there too long. Set pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before loosening sides of cake from pan and inverting onto a wire rack. Remove parchment paper and re-invert; let cool completely.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 to 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add 2 cups confectioners' sugar and salt; beat until smooth. Add chocolate and mix until well combined. If frosting seems too loose, add additional confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it becomes firm. Do not over-beat. Frosting can be made up to 1 day in advance if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator; let soften at room temperature before using.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make even. Place 1 layer on a cake plate; frost top with 1/2 cup frosting and top with remaining layer. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting to cover. Cake can be kept in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days. Let come to almost room temperature before serving.

I love this recipe because it is not just your same old chocolate or vanilla cake. The flavors in this cake will wow and surprise you. You have to try this unique and yummy family recipe, that guarantees you will be going back for seconds.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Martha's Apple-Pecan Cake..........

What do you think of when you hear nutmeg, apples and roasted pecans? What comes to my mind are the holidays and the word "yummy"and that is exactly what this Apple-Pecan Cake is. This recipe is so moist and full of flavor and honestly is a perfect after school snack or a light, but, packed full of flavor dessert.

Like my last post this was the featured recipe on Martha Stewart's show. I trust Martha and find most of her recipes to be pleasing and very delish and in some ways I hold Martha and my mom on the same pedestal, both are classy ladies, both are very good cooks and every recipe I use of theirs are keepers and crowd pleasers.

So if you love fall like I do, and love when the leaves are changing and there is a briskness in the air, pumpkins and mums are being sold at the grocery stores and you go looking for your favorite recipe for pumpkin cookies then this recipe is for you. The nutmeg, pecans, apples and orange zest gives this recipe a fall flavor that is both comforting and warm.

Apple-Pecan Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 medium apple, such as Gala or Fuji, peeled and diced small
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon packed finely grated orange zest
3 large eggs
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Start off by preheating oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or I used a 8-inch pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides, so that it is easier to remove. Butter the parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the apple (cut up in small but not too small chunk, large enough that they don't dissolve ) and pecans with 2 tablespoons flour to coat, set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. In addition, using another small bowl, combine applesauce and yogurt and set aside also.

In a large mixing bowl (I use my Kitchen Aide), beat butter, granulated sugar, and orange zest on high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Then turn mixer to low and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions applesauce mixture, and beat until combined. Fold in apple mixture gently until completely mixed in. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Using parchment, lift cake from pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar or top with some whip cream before serving.

This recipe is moist, flavorful and the perfect fall treat for any occasion.

Happy Fall Baking!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Peach (or apple) Cutie Pies

I have not been working for a month now and for that month I have been able to be home to watch the Martha Stewart Show. She has so many informative segments, from how to fold a fitted sheet to how to make a Halloween pinata out of a balloon (who would have thought?). But what I am most inspired by is her cooking segment of the show. She brings in renowned chefs and bakers and they show you right then and there how to make their most fav or popular recipes. It is like getting a fabulous cooking class from a famous pastry chef for free. So I find myself DVR-ing the show.

I have about 4-5 shows recorded, all with recipes that I am dying to try. In fact I got my pancake recipe, that Thad swears is the best he has ever had from the Martha Stewart Show. The other day I was watching and there was a baker on there named Dani Cone and she is the author of a cookbook called "Cutie Pies" and a baker at High 5 Pie in Seattle, WA. She showed how to make pie pops, pie in a mason jar and mini pies in a muffin tin. They are so shabby chic ans soooooo cute. As soon as I saw this segment I knew I had to try one of these recipes. So I chose to make her cutie pies which are mini pies made in a muffin tin and let me tell you....they were literally a mini taste of fall and so yum!!!!

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
3/4 cup ice water
Nonstick cooking spray

6 to 8 peaches, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used granny smith apples instead)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pie Topping
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1/4 cup rolled oats

Start off by preheating the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in center of the oven. Spray every other cup of a standard-size muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. You will need enough muffin tins to spray 16 alternating cups. Alternatively, you can work in batches. Set muffin tins aside.

To make the crust: using a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, salt, and sugar, mixing well. Add butter and mix gently using a pastry blender, a fork or your hands, until butter pieces are well coated. Gradually add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue mixing until pea-size crumbs have formed and the dough somewhat sticks together; Dough should not be smooth and beaten together like cookie dough.
Gather dough together and divide in half. Flatten each into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Transfer dough to refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each disk of dough to a 1/4-inch thickness, lightly dusting with flour, as necessary, to prevent sticking. Cut out sixteen 5 1/2-inch-round circles, gently re-rolling scraps as necessary. Gently but firmly press each dough circle into a prepared muffin cup; crimp edges as desired. I used a glass bowl rim that was roughly 5 inches. I found it does not need to be exact, I would error on the larger size than of a pie circle than smaller (easier to work with).
To make the filling: Place all filling ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to combine; spoon filling evenly into muffin cups and set aside (I filled each pie to the rim with apples)

To make crumb topping
: In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and cinnamon; mix well. Add butter and mix thoroughly using a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers until small pea-size crumbs form. Add oats and mix until topping has a crumbly consistency. Once mixed, if you are not placing the topping on right away, place in refrigerator until ready to use.
Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over cutie pies and transfer to oven; bake until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before removing from tins, using a butter knife to loosen sides, if necessary. Cutie pies are best served at room temperature, however warmed up with a little scoop of ice cream has never hurt anyone.
You will love these perfectly portioned pies that are ideal for one and would be great served at a dinner party or even a fall festival. You will love these mini fall delights, guaranteed.
Happy Fall Baking!