Cinnamon & Cayenne Chocolate Cake

This is the kind of stuff that puts a smile on someone’s face. And who doesn’t want to do that?

INGREDIENTS

Cake

200 g flour
300 g sugar
75 g unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder
180 g buttermilk (room temp)
160 g hot water
180 g vegetable/canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs

Frosting

227 grams unsalted butter softened
224 g powdered sugar
120 g melted semi-sweet or dark chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cayenne poweder

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line two 8″ cake rounds. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne. In a separate medium bowl, mix together buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and eggs.

Combine wet (not hot water) and dry ingredients. Mix until combined and then add hot water. Mix until combined and then pour into prepared pans.

Cook for approximately 25 minutes until done. Let cool and then make frosting.

Melt chocolate and set aside to cool. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add butter and powdered sugar to bowl and mix at high speed until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add cayenne and vanilla. Lower speed and slowly add melted chocolate. Cover in a cool place until cake is completely cooled.

To decorate my cake, I trimmed the layers to level them and put the excess cake into the food processor to make crumbs.


Spring Has Sprung Carrot Cake

I adapted the Serious Eats Carrot Cake recipe for this classic loaf cake.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound of carrots, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 ¼ cups flour
¾ cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup honey
½ cup coconut oil (if solid, melt in microwave)
½ cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9”x 5” loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside. Boil carrots for approximately 10 minutes until tender. Drain and mash like mashed potatoes and set aside to cool. 

Toast the walnuts in a pan for a few minutes until lightly browned. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with sugar and honey until pale yellow. Whisk in the coconut oil and buttermilk. Stir in the carrots, then combine with the flour mixture until just blended.  Fold in walnuts. 

Pour into prepared pans and bake until cake springs back for about 45-50 minutes. Let cool in pans for ten minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. 

Diablo Ranch Biscuits

Look, I know I didn’t come up with the recipe for biscuits. But I did take everything I learned from about 20 different recipes and came up with this. I hope it works for your too, because honestly, there ain’t nothing like a fresh biscuit out of the oven.

INGREDIENTS

380g cups flour (AP is fine but White Lily if you have it)
½ tsp kosher salt
4 tsp baking powder
170g cold butter cubed
1 cup buttermilk (add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to whole milk if you don’t have buttermilk)
2 tablespoons butter

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Measure out the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Cube the butter to 1” pieces and toss it in the flour. Since it all has to be very cold put this in the refrigerator for a few minutes. 

Weigh out the milk, add the vinegar if using whole milk and put it back in the refrigerator. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Melt the butter in a small bowl and put aside. 

Take the cold butter/flour out of the refrigerator and cut the butter into the flour until you can still see pea-sized pieces of butter.  Add the cold milk and stir with a fork until the flour/butter is moistened.  Do not over mix. 

Working quickly, tip out onto a lightly floured surface and begin folding the dough over itself 5 to 6 times smashing it a bit with the palm of your hands until the flour is all mixed in. You will still see chunks of butter.  Form or gently roll into a 1 to 1 1/2-inch thick disk.  

Using a biscuit cutter or glass cut out your biscuits.  Use a quick motion to cut through the dough. The more you play with it the less they will rise. Place them on the baking sheet and brush the tops generously with the melted butter.  

Bake for 15 minutes until browned.  

Swedish Pepparkakor

These thin ginger snaps are what holiday baking is all about. I visited Sweden when I was 16 so clearly, I’m an expert. I have The Culinary Chronicles to thank for this.

INGREDEINTS

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
170g unsalted butter
4 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp pepper
Pinch cayenne
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown soft sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together in bowl. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and then let it brown. Swirl the pan frequently. Once brown, turn off the heat.

Measure out spices and toast them in a pan.

Whisk in all the spices and then add the brown sugar and molasses to the butter mixture. Whisk to combine until the sugar has melted and you have a smooth mixture. Add the egg and yolk and mix again with the whisk to combine. You should have a dark, sticky, smooth and glossy mixture.

Pour this mixture into your bowl of flour and combine with a spatula until you have a dough – don’t over work it. Place dough between two sheets of parchment and roll out slight to a rectangle. Get it as thin as possible. This will save you time when rolling out. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 275 F when you are ready to bake. Take dough out of refrigerator and divide into 4 pieces. Let the first one sit out for about 15 minutes before rolling as thin as possible, 1mm, if you can do it! Return the other pieces to the refrigerator before rolling out. I rolled them between two pieces of parchment, in one direction and kept turning the dough/parchment. I don’t add flour and this makes it easier to ensure the rolling pin does not stick. Peel back the top layer of parchment when you have reached the desired thin-ness (not thickness 😉 ) and cut out cookies using whatever cutter you desire.

I left the cookies on the parchment and pulled back the excess dough, flattened the excess dough and put it back in the fridge. I left the cookies where they were (close together on the parchment) and then put them on a sheet and placed them in the freezer for 30 minutes until they firmed up. When hard, the cut cookies are easy to assemble on a lined baking sheet–1″ apart.

Bake for 10 minutes and then turn sheets to ensure even baking. I baked mine for two minutes more totaling 12 minutes. Let cool on rack.

Decorate with royal icing.

Cranberry, Orange & Pistachio Stollen

I changed up my stollen flavors this year and added some pistachio paste, cranberries and orange. I adapted this from Big Sur Bakery’s recipe.

INGREDIENTS

Sponge:

¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm milk

1 tablespoon instant yeast

1 cup bread flour

For the stollen:

1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, plus extra for coating the bowl

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

¼ tsp. ground clove

¼ tsp. ground allspice

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

½ cup sugar

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 egg yolks

2 tsp. almond extract

1 ¼ cups dried candied orange zest

2 cups mixture of dried cranberries and golden raisins (soaked in 3 cups of dark rum overnight or longer)

½ cup raw unbalanced almonds

3 cups bread flour

For the pistachio paste center:

7 oz pistachio paste

For finishing:

½ cup melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

Start the morning or night before you are baking and soak the raisins and cranberries in rum.

In an electric mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment, combine the milk, flour, and yeast until a loose dough is formed, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a buttered bowl big enough for the sponge to double in size. Cover with plastic wrap then place in a warm part of the kitchen until it doubles in size (approx. 30-60 minutes).

Scatter the almonds on a cookie sheet and toast until very light brown, about 10 minutes. Cool completely and roughly chop. Meanwhile, cream the butter, spices, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix to combine.

Drain the currants and reserve the rum. Toss together the cranberries, candied fruit, and toasted almonds and reserve until ready to use.

In the electric mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the sponge and the remaining flour with the butter mixture. Mix on medium until the dough is shiny and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add cranberry, raisin, fruit and nut mixture until incorporated. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a ball, keeping a smooth skin of dough over the top that contains the currant-nut mixture inside the dough. Place the dough in a buttered bowl large enough to let it double in size and cover it with plastic film. Let it rise in a warm part of the kitchen until it doubles, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and cut into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into a football, keeping the smooth skin on top and tucking in the fruit underneath. Let the breads rest for a few minutes covered with plastic film. Working with one piece of dough at a time, flip them over on your work surface. Punch them to get rid of any air bubbles and tuck the dough over and in to form a tight football shape. Repeat with the other 3 pieces of dough. Let them rest on the table covered with a plastic bag for 15 minutes.

While they’re resting, roll the pistachio paste into four pieces and roll them into 4 logs about 6 inches long. After the 15 minute rest period, take your first loaf and flip it on a floured surface. Roll the center of the loaf until it’s 1/2-inch thick with a rolling pin to create a cradle about 4 inches wide while keeping the edges thick. Place the log in the center and fold the top half over. Press with the side of your hand to create a crease between the log and the two thick pieces of dough. Place the shaped loaves on two sheet pans lined with parchment paper, apart from each other so they can double in size. Place the trays in plastic garbage bags and then set in a warm part of the kitchen for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the dough is spongy to the touch.

While it if rising for the final time, preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Once the bread is cool enough to handle, brush it generously with the reserved rum and melted butter. Sprinkle with the sugar and dust heavily with powdered sugar. Eat right away or store it wrapped in plastic film.

(Adapted From The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook: A Year in the Life of a Restaurant, William Morrow An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2009)

Nabisco Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies

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It was my turn to come up with a challenge for the Home Baker’s Collective. Nabisco made these cookies when I was a kid.  We would go to Food Town on Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell, NJ and buy a few boxes of them.  Inevitably we would crack open a box on the car ride home and each of us would get our own cardboard box full of these delicious marshmallow treats.  I mixed a few recipes and even modified the Serious Eat’s pop tart recipe to try to get the cookie right.  It is still not there. But oh, so close. If anyone out there remembers these cookies and has a better idea for the cookie part, please let me know.

INGREDIENTS

Cookies

113 g cold cubed butter
110 g all-purpose flour
30 g whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
85 g corn syrup
45 g honey

Marshmallow Filling

4 teaspoons gelatin
1/2 cup water, divided
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
9 ounces granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Assembly

½ cup Apricot Jam
2 tablespoons water

DIRECTIONS

Cookies
With your fingers, cut butter into flour, along with salt, until reduced to pea sized lumps. Next, add corn syrup and honey all at once and mix with a fork until it forms a ball. Dust your hands with a little flour, scoop out the dough, and knead lightly until smooth.

Flatten dough into a squarish shape, wrap in plastic, and chill at least 30 minutes. Or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and let it warm up just a bit.  Roll to 1/8” thick. Use a round cookie cutter to make circles and place them on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes until just turning color.  You don’t want to brown them.

Remove from sheet and let cool. While you make the marshmallow.

Marshmallow
Bloom gelatin by placing 1/4 cup water in small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over top. Let sit at least 5 minutes to soften.

Place 1/4 cup corn syrup in standing mixer bowl. Place remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup remaining 1/4 cup water, and sugar in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until dissolved. Continue to cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 240 degrees F (use a thermometer).  Immediately pour hot syrup down side of mixer bowl and add softened gelatin and vanilla.  Turn mixer to medium speed and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, about 7-8 minutes.

Assembly
Add water to apricot jam to pot and heat until it thins out.  Spread thin layer on each cookie half.  Line them up and pipe marshmallow filling on one half and then place 2nd cookie on top.  Do not push down. Gravity will do the work.  Let them dry out on some parchment for a couple hours.

 

 

 

 

Golden State Granola

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This month’s challenge by the Home Baker’s Collective was to share something from your state.  I decided to do my Blue Bottle Coffee inspired granola.  So easy, adaptable, and good for you.  You should always have a jar of this on hand.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup water
4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, coconut oil, and water.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly while sugar dissolves and begins to boil.  Set off heat and add vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the room temperature oil/sugar mixture and coat evenly. Transfer to a rimmed 13″x18″ inch baking tray. Pat down to an even layer and bake for 75 minutes, break up granola into a few big pieces and flip halfway through. Make sure it is all dried out and not sticky.  Let dry completely before storing.

Salted Egg Yolk Cookies

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Better than shortbread.  Always, I mean always, have these on hand for guests.

INGREDIENTS

240g plain flour
15g cornflour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon milk powder

4 salted egg yolks
170g butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
85g sugar

Topping:
1 egg yolk + a little water for wash
1 tablespoon each of black and white sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS

Follow these directions for salted egg yolk.  You will have to do this at least one day in advance. Once it is ready, smash with fork or pastry cutter until crumbled and set aside.

In separate bowl, sift flour, cornflour, baking powder, baking soda and milk powder.

In the mixer bowl, add butter, salt and sugar. Mix until well incorporated.

Add smashed salted egg yolks and sifted flours until well combined.  Chill dough for a few minutes.  If it gets too cold it will crack easily. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and use any cutter you desire. Place them on lined cookie sheets and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place sesame seeds in a small bowl and mix. Remove cookies from refrigerator and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Citrus Sourdough Doughnuts

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I have never made sourdough doughnuts before so I did a google search and came up with this from Baking Sense. I added some ginger and lemon to this recipe and came up with my own filling.

INGREDIENTS

Doughnuts

1 cup whole milk, warmed to about 120°F
1 large egg (room temp)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
224g active sourdough starter
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar for dough + 1 cup for rolling after frying
2 teaspoons ginger
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon table salt
Canola Oil for frying

Filling

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the Dough (Day 1)

Combine the warm milk, butter and egg with the starter in a mixer bowl. With the mixer running, add sugar, spices, salt and 2.5 cups of the flour. Mix until it forms a thick batter.

Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour (amount of flour may vary based on the hydration of your starter). The dough will start out quite sticky. Knead on medium low speed for 15 minutes (speed 2 on my stand mixer) until the dough clings to the hook and clears the sides of the bowl.

Scrape the dough into a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover and set the dough aside at room temperature for 4-5 hours.

Every hour repeat the following procedure: Uncover the bowl, lift one edge of the dough over into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. Cover the bowl and set aside. By now the dough should be lively, elastic and airy. If the dough is still sluggish give it another hour or two at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Make the filling

To prepare the filling, create a double boiler by bringing a pot of water to boil and placing a heat-proof mixing bowl on top.

Whisk in lemon juice, zest, sugar and eggs. Continue whisking on the double boiler until it starts to thicken slightly. Drop butter into the mixture one tablespoon at a time.

Once the butter has been added, continue whisking until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it has cooled completely.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk heavy cream and salt together until it forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold in the cooled lemon mixture. Place in the refrigerator for at least another 30 minutes. or overnight.

Day 2

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. While the dough is still cold, without kneading, roll to 1/2″ thick on a lightly floured surface.

Use a 4″ round cutter to cut donuts. Line the donuts on a well-oiled, parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, leaving space between the donuts for the dough to rise. Re-roll the scraps of dough and continue cutting donuts until all the dough is used up. Brush the tops of the donuts lightly with oil.

Cover the sheet pans with plastic wrap and set aside to rise. The donuts are ready when you poke the dough and the dent slowly fills in. If the dough bounces right back it’s not quite ready. This rise should take about 1 1/2 hours. The time will vary based on the temperature of the room.

Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts of oil to 350F° in a large heavy pot. Fry the donuts a couple at a time, about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffy.

As you take each donut out of the oil, immediately roll in sugar to coat the entire donut. Set on a cooling rack while you fry the rest of the donuts. You need to let them cool before you fill them.

Right before serving, cut small holes in the side of each doughnut with a paring knife, in the shape of an X. Place filling in a piping bag fitted with a piping tip.  You will feel the doughnut expand when full.  Enjoy immediately.  No one likes an old doughnut.

 

Raspberry Bars

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I gotta start thinking “kinda healthy & delicious”.  I used this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups oats (old fashioned or quick)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup wheatgerm
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Raspberry Filling
1 pint raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine raspberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer 2 minutes while continuing to stir constantly until sauce is thick and translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine oats, flour, sugar, wheatgerm and cinnamon in a food processor. Process until oats are finely ground. Add oil and egg, and pulse until combined. Press half of the crumb mixture evenly on bottom of a 9×9 baking pan/dish. Pour raspberry filling over crumbs, spreading evenly. Top with remaining crumbs and gently pat mixture down. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let bars cool completely before cutting into bars.