Pumpkin Cupcakes

Originally posted October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!!

I didn’t dress up or carve any jack-o-lanterns this year, but I did enjoy plenty of pumpkin. I made these pumpkin cupcakes for school today and also because yesterday was a beautiful Sunday!  Most of the blogs I have seen used browned butter icing, so I thought I would use the same.  It adds a nice twist and an extra flavor to the pumpkin cupcake.

This recipe is adapted from a pumpkin square recipe that my friend’s mom gave me (thanks to Becca and her mom!).

I’m glad I got plenty of pumpkins before the holiday snuck up because apparently the grocery stores are all out!

Trick-or-treaters: I bought pumpkin shaped reeses, so feel free to come by my house!

Pumpkin Cupcakes
Adapted from Nancy Thomason’s Pumpkin Squares

Cake Ingredients
4 Eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup cooking oil
1 16 oz. canned pumpkin (or 2 cups fresh pumpkin)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tea salt
1 tea baking soda

In a mixing bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.  Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  Add to pumpkin mixture and mix thoroughly.

Add batter to paper lined cupcake pans.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size you are baking.

Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients

1 8oz. pk. Cream cheese
½ cup butter, browned
1 tea vanilla
3 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar

Brown butter in a skillet.  The butter will give off a nutty aroma and start to bubble and brown.  Allow butter to cool.  Beat together cream cheese and butter.  Mix in sugar and vanilla.

Color with food coloring if desired.

Add to cooled cupcakes.

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Cake Pops!

I was originally skeptical of this new dessert fad: cake pops.  Who wants a ball of dried cake dipped in chocolate?  When a friend sent me some for my birthday, I was forced to try them.  As I bit in, I realized it was not at all what I expected.  Instead of finding dry cake inside, I discovered the exact opposite.  The cake was actually mixed with icing!

After having my first cake pop, I knew I wanted to make them.  First step: get all of the supplies.  This is the part that took awhile.  I found the chocolate shell that you dip the cake into, but I kept forgetting (and when I didn’t forget, couldn’t find) the Popsicle sticks and Styrofoam.  Last week, I finally went to Michaels and got the sticks and foam.  I was ready to go.

I split the process up into multiple days.  The first day I made the cake.  I just used a box of butter recipe golden cake mix because I had it on hand.  After the cake had cooled, I put it in the fridge.  The next night, I mixed the cake up with a few spoons of cream cheese icing from a container.  I scooped the cake into balls with a mini-ice cream scoop and put them on a plate in the refrigerator.  (I’m sure all of my culinary friends are turning their noses up at me for using a cake mix and pre-made icing, but I’m ok with that).  The third night, I first dipped the sticks into the chocolate and then into the cake pops (apparently it helps keep the sticks on).  After leaving them in the fridge for an hour, I dipped the whole thing in chocolate and then poured on some sprinkles.

I have to say, they turned out pretty good.  They weren’t as perfect looking as the cake pops you see in Starbucks, but they have a little more character.  🙂

Steps:

1. Make cake and cool.  Store in fridge.

2. Mix cake with a few spoonfuls of cream cheese icing.

3. Spoon cake into small balls and put into the fridge.

4. Melt some of the chocolate in microwave and dip the popsicle sticks into the chocolate and then into the cake pops.  Put in the fridge for 1 hour.

5. Melt the rest of the chocolate.  Dip the cake pops into the chocolate and add sprinkles.

6.  Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Rainbow Cake

Originally posted May 9, 2011 (My first blog post!)

This first blog post is a lesson in patience.  This is the third time I’ve gone through all of the steps… the others were miraculously deleted.

Here we go… again!  Rainbow cake!  I made this cake for this first time as a practice run for my nephew’s 1st birthday.  Trust me, nothing says “Happy Birthday!” like a rainbow cake!  The best way to serve the cake is as a surprise.  Cover the entire cake in icing, and then wait for the squeals when you make your first slice and reveal the rainbow of colors.

Citation: I followed the steps (which you may prefer) on this blog: http://www.hostessblog.com/2009/02/fabulous-rainbow-cake-tutorial/

Have fun with it!  You really can’t go wrong!

Step 1:  Make a light colored cake (chocolate will not work).  I recommend Betty Crocker’s Butter Recipe Golden.  I’ve been making it since high school, and people always ask me for the recipe!  Cover it with cream cheese icing, and you’ll be in love.

Step 2:  Separate the batter into individual bowls.  Add food coloring to each.  Stir.

Step 3: Add about ½ of the red batter into the first prepared cake pan.  Let settle.  Then add orange… let settle.  Follow by yellow… settle.
In the other pan, do the same thing with purple, blue, and green.
After the pans have settled, add the rest of the batter in the opposite order (yellow, orange, red & green, blue, purple) to each pan.  Check out pics below.

                   

Step 4: Lick the bowls.  Yes, the batter is in weird colors, but it tastes just as good as prior to the food coloring.

Step 5:  Bake the cake, let cool, ice.

Step 6: Cut into the cake and enjoy!!

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing

Originally posted November 6, 2011

I used a disgusting amount of butter this weekend.  Between a birthday cake for my mom, cherry squares for my dad, another birthday cake for some friends’ party, and biscuits this morning, I literally have none left in my refrigerator.  All of the items turned out pretty well though!

For now, I’ll start with my mom’s birthday cake.  We all have our favorite desserts on our birthday.  Mine is Betty Crocker Butter Recipe Golden (not yellow) cake from a box with canned cream cheese icing.  You can make me a real cake, but nothing will ever compare to what comes out of the box, and since it is my birthday, that’s what I choose.

My mom’s favorite is yellow cake with chocolate icing.  Since she was coming in town for her birthday (and for the opening of the Container Store and to go shopping in our new Nordstroms), I figured I should find the best yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing I could.

I turned to smitten kitchen, and she didn’t let me down.  To be honest, I didn’t even really taste the cake, it just acts as a medium for eating the chocolate icing.  For any of your friends who want yellow cake with chocolate icing on their birthday, I recommend trying this out.  The chocolate icing is extremely easy as long as you have a food processor.  If you are in a bind, you can use the Betty Crocker yellow cake box mix and then making this icing.

Now, I better go help out my mom since she has already re-organized my whole closet and cleaned all my clothes — on HER birthday weekend!

I used the recipes exactly, so I won’t re-print, rather just refer you to the links:
yellow cake (http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/07/best-birthday-cake/)
chocolate fudge icing (scroll down to the last recipe, it is the Instant Fudge Frosting, not the recipes with the expresso): http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/08/espresso-chiffon-cake-with-fudge-frosting/
Tips:
I used cake flour for the first time.  It took me forever to find because they don’t have it with the other flours.  Instead, it is in the section with the cake mixes.

Make sure you put a cookie sheet underneath the cake pans when baking, mine majorly overflowed

For your leftover buttermilk you can make my cinnamon biscuits!

Apfel Kaffee Kuchen (Apple Coffee Cake)

Originally posted on October 9, 2011

“Dass ist Apfelkuchen? Nein, dass ist kein Apfelkuchen.  Dass ist Kirchkuchen.”

Usually you learn another language before you go and visit a foreign speaking  country.  Well… I’m doing the opposite.  After returning from my trip, I downloaded a few “Learn German by Podcasts” to listen to on my way to and from school each day.  It is quite entertaining!  My favorite podcast is, shockingly, the visit to the bakery.

A man walks into the bakery and asks for a piece of cake and then asks what kind of cake it is.  “Is that apple cake?  No, it is not apple cake.  It is cherry cake.”

Apple cake??  What in the world is apple cake?  I had to find out.  I did a little research, and found a few examples including this one on smittenkitchen.  Apple cake looked…ok, but I wanted my apple cake to be different.  I wanted it to be along the lines of coffee cake.  Solution: make an apple coffee cake!

I used my favorite coffee cake recipe from the Waldemar cookbook and added a layer of apples at the bottom.  I had some leftover buttermilk, so I replaced the regular milk with that.  Instead of using all of the butter in the cake (it is pretty rich), I substituted ¾ of the butter with unsweetened apple sauce.  It came out delicious!

I just want to make it clear, that if you walk into a bakery in Germany and ask for a piece of apple cake (“Ich möchte ein Stück Apfelkuchen”) that what you get will likely not be anything like this cake.  **Sidenote: I went back to Germany this past May and could not find any apple cake!  I finally settled on ordering Apple Strudel (in German I might add) which only led to more confusion because for the rest of the meal the waitress thought I spoke German. **

As for my German, I can ask for apple cake, but I still can’t count to ten.  I’m not sure how this is going to help me the next time I’m in a panic at a train station in Austria at 6:45 in the morning because I don’t know any German and I got off at the wrong train stop.  (Don’t worry, I still made it to the airport in time for my flight despite running to another train station with 3 bags and missing my train by one minute – silly Germans and their punctuality!)

Apple Coffee Cake (Adapted from the Waldemar Coffee Cake)

Bottom Layer
3 apples pealed and chopped
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cake Batter
3/8 cup applesauce
1/8 cup butter (2 Tbsp.)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
½ Tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Topping
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup butter, cold

Preheat oven to 375.
Toss the apples with sugar and cinnamon. Set aside
In a mixing bowl, cream applesauce, softened butter, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and continue to beat.
Sift together in a separate bowl: flour, baking powder, and salt.
Stir in flour mixture and milk, alternating.
Add vanilla and stir to combine.

Put the apples at the bottom of a 9×9 pan.
Add cake batter on top.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together sugar and cinnamon for the topping.  Cut in the butter.

Take the cake out of oven and sprinkle the topping over the cake.
Bake for an additional 20 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).

Nina’s Pound Cake

Originally posted on June 1st, 2011

In 8th grade, our entire class took a 14-hour bus trip across Texas (yes, Texas is that big) to Big Bend National Park to camp out for the week.  The longest and hardest hike of the week was the “Blue Creek.”  We packed PB & Jelly sandwiches and a few snacks to carry us through the hike, but the last couple hours of the hike were especially brutal: the pretty sights were over, we were all hungry, and the hike consisted of switch-back after switch-back.   In order to pass time, we started brainstorming different foods I would sell if I owned a restaurant at the bottom of the mountain – I think the name was going to be “Blue Creek Café” or something equally as creative.  After awhile, the conversation evolved into us just naming all of our favorite foods.  Someone brought up pound cake.  Alex T. then said that the way you can determine whether a pound cake is good or not is if you smash your fork into it and the pound cake squishes through the fork.   Every time I have pound cake now, I have to do the test.  This recipe passes with flying colors.

This particular recipe comes from Nina who taught me how to cook.  I used to just sit in the kitchen and watch her make banana bread (I once ate a whole (mini) loaf in one sitting and then had to go take a long nap), chicken fried steak (my favorite), and all sorts of other things.  She rarely used a recipe – she just knew what to add.  Most of the time the ingredients were ‘heaping’ and she’d stop adding when it seemed right.  Of the hundreds of things she used to make, I only have a few recipes, and this is one of them.  Nina turned 89 yesterday – happy birthday!!

Citation: Nina Perkins

Nina’s Pound Cake

3 cups flour
3 sticks butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
2 T vanilla
1 cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon baking soda, mixed into the sour cream.

Grease a bunt pan well (I recommend using butter and flour to make sure the cake comes out smoothly).
Mix together all of the ingredients and pour into the pan.
Bake at 325 for 1 hour to 1 ¼ hours.

Serve by itself or with some strawberries.

The sour cream is what makes the cake so moist.