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Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Pecan Muffins with a Pecan Streusel Topping

I made these delicious muffins for Thanksgiving, but these can be made year-round (if you're going to hoard cans of pumpkin like I'm going to). I started searching for a basic pumpkin muffin recipe at allrecipes.com but I added pecans and used canned pumpkin instead of a fresh one. Here's my modified version:

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached this time)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (you could add more or completely delete)
Streusel topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard muffin pans (or 1 jumbo muffin pan) with paper cups.
2) In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together 2 cups pumpkin puree, vegetable oil and eggs. Stir pumpkin mixture into flour mixture until smooth. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups.  

3) In a different bowl, mix brown sugar and flour. Add butter and cut mixture, using a fork. Add pecans, and spoon the topping on top of the unbaked muffins.

It looks like a lot, but it will work out. Trust me!
4) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a butter knife inserted in the center of a muffins comes out clean. 

These muffins were a definite hit with the family! I loved the added crunch of the nuts and the crumbly streusel topping! Make sure to use a napkin when eating them. They get a little messy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Martha's Pumpkin Cake

 Since my beloved and I are not Mr. and Mrs. yet, we still spend time at our respective family's homes for Thanksgiving. I wanted to make a dessert for his family as a little gift, so I tried a new pumpkin cake recipe. I turned to Martha Stewart (she has yet to fail me in the recipe department) for her Pumpkin Spice Cake recipe. It can be found here, along with a tasty Honey Frosting recipe.
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 (15-oz) can solid-pack pumpkin puree
1) Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2 6" pans (could potentially be three pans) with Baker's Joy.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. In a larger bowl, mix together the wet ingredients and sugar. Combine the dry with the wet, and gently mix until smooth.
3) Spoon batter into pans and smooth out the tops. Bake until a butter knife inserted comes out with only a few moist crumbs. (I would go for 55- 60 minutes with these 6" pans. The original recipe called for a 9" square baking pan.)
4) Cool the cakes for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn them out onto a rack (right-side-up) to cool completely.

And, of course, I used my reliable little cream cheese buttercream to pair with this delicious cake. I wanted it to look like a carrot cake, so I made little pumpkins to go around the edges with some hanging vines. Just a simple little design.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

I had some leftover buttermilk and pumpkin from the Pumpkin Spice Cake I made last week, so I thought, "pumpkin pancakes!!" I looked up a buttermilk pancake recipe on foodtv.com and tweaked it to make it pumpkin-y.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I would want to change this to 1 cup for extra pumpkin goodness)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1) Whisk together all of the ingredients except for the 2 tablespoons butter. Mix until combined (there may be little lumpies).

Shaken Buttermilk
Stirring in the pumpkin- yum!

2) Set the mixture aside to rest while the pan heats (on medium heat). Melt some butter in the pan (I used a bit of butter then some oil-- less likely to burn). Ladle 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and cook until bubbles form on top (about 3 minutes). Flip and cook until golden brown (another minute or so).

3) Repeat with the rest of the batter and serve with your favorite syrup (warm maple syrup would be perfect!)

My beloved enjoyed these pancakes, and he said he could taste the pumpkin, but I wanted to taste more of the pumpkin flavor. So I think the next time I make this recipe, I'll put 1 cup into the batter instead of 1/2 cup. I loved it, though!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cake

As Thanksgiving nears, the pumpkin spice recipes must continue rolling. My beloved is part of an interesting faction called the Zombie Squad (don't try to look it up). They're all close friends, and they are like family. So this past Saturday was the ZS Thanksgiving! Everyone was to bring something, and I was volunteered to bring a cake (of course!). I figured I'd make a pumpkin spice cake, and decorate it with none other than the unofficial sponsor of ZS-- Natural Light beer. I found the recipe for a very moist pumpkin cake at The Joy of Baking and it goes as follows:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar (packed)
2 large eggs
1 cup fresh or canned pure pumpkin (about 1/2 of a 15 ounce can)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (I replaced this with nutmeg because I didn't have cloves-- still turned out great!)
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

1) First, I preheated the oven to 350 and sprayed 2 8" round pans with Baker's Joy (it's just as good as buttering and flouring a pan without the fuss and mess). I also moved a rack in the oven into the center position.

2) Beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy (2-3 minutes) then add the eggs, one egg at a time, giving time between each to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl (and the beater!!) if necessary. Then add the pumpkin and vanilla. Beat until mixed well.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

Add the buttermilk and the flour mixture alternately, making 3 additions. Make sure to start and end on the flour mixture. Pour the cake batter evenly into both cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a butter knife inserted into each center comes out clean.

4) Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out of their pans to cool completely.

While the cakes were baking, I got started on the cream cheese icing, which is the same recipe that I had used for my pumpkin cupcakes.

I decided to torte the two layers to add some height and make it look a bit fancy when cut.

Cream cheese icing is very soft, so I refrigerated after the crumb coat, I refrigerated after the final coat, and I refrigerated when I was done with my design.
I scored the logo with a toothpick and got to work filling it in. I like the "puffy" look, so I went over my design a couple of times. I added borders to the bottom and top, and I was done! Everyone LOVED the cake, both inside and out.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Magical Virginia Tech Birthday Cake

A good friend of mine, Bob, had his birthday recently and it happened to fall on the night of the Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech game. Bob and his family are fans of Virginia Tech, so I figured I would make him a cake with the logo on it for his birthday.

Lesson learned: making maroon takes a LOT of red and very little black. No other colors. I baked up some dark chocolate fudge cake and iced it with my butter-vanilla buttercream (BVB) and went to work on mixing some orange and maroon colors. I scored the logo on the top of the cake with a skewer then carefully traced and filled in my lines.

I went big and made a tri-color shell border... Luckily, I ended on the right color so the border stayed consistent.

Bob loved his cake (and so did the guests at the party [including me!]) And why is this cake magical, you might ask...? Because Virginia Tech won that night! Yay!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fondant-Free Hobbit Hole Cake!

Ah, yes. The birthday cake for my beloved has been revealed-- it is a Lord of the Rings-inspired hobbit hole cake! I kind of had a choice between Minas Tirith and a hobbit hole, so I went for the hobbit hole! I am not that ambitious just yet, especially after seeing this! So I started with two 8" layers and two 6"
 layers of chocolate cake.

My beloved's favorite flavor combo is chocolate and peanut butter, so I made him some Wilton peanut butter buttercream from scratch.

The recipe is as follows

Peanut Butter Buttercream (makes 3 cups)

  • 1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (approx. 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 4-6 tablespoons milk

After placing my layered 8" rounds onto a corner on the board and cut a notch out of my 6" layers, so they could fit snugly. I saved the piece cut out from the notch and placed it between the 8" and 6" rounds to create a slope.

I slathered (oh, yes, I said "slathered") all of the cake in the peanut butter buttercream then set it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. I had also made a regular vanilla batch of buttercream for coloring purposes, so in the meantime, I mixed a LOT of green for the grass.

I spread a block of white on the "front" of the hobbit hole where the doors and windows will go.

I popped the cake back in the fridge for another 15 minutes or so. I covered the top and back of the hill in green with a grass tip (time-consuming!)...

I traced circles in the front for the door and windows.

I used different colors of icing for the flowers and rock detail.

Overall, my beloved LOVED it! I was excited!

On a sidenote: While I was researching the look of hobbit holes, I came across this. This is a real residence in Wales, and I am officially impressed and inspired.
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