Monday, November 28, 2011

Brown Sugar Brown Butter Birthday Cake

Birthdays are so much fun to celebrate, especially when they are close to holidays. Maybe I’m wrong, but it makes your birthday seem extra special when it’s on a special event, I think. However, I have met some people that hate having their birthdays near the holidays, especially Christmas, because the day isn’t about them and Christmas and Birthday presents are intermingled and all that. Everyone in my family has a birthday close to the holidays, well everyone except my sister. My dad was born around Father’s day, which means every once in a while he gets to have an extra special day of peace and quiet; my dog was born on Halloween, which means she doesn’t get chastised for eating people food (it’s her little birthday treat); I was born 12 days after Christmas (the Epiphany); and my mom was born around Thanksgiving, and this year her birthday happened to fall on the 4th Thursday of the month, Turkey Day!

My dad asked me if I wanted to make my mom’s cake this year or should we just get it from the store. I opted for baking the cake because I don’t like the store frosting and I can manipulate whatever flavors I want into the cake. The first thing that came to mind for my mom was a brown sugar cake. I don’t know what it is about brown sugar, but I absolutely love it!

So, on Thanksgiving morning, I woke up at 6:15 am in order to get to work on her birthday cake. The recipe I used would make a 3 layer cake, and I figured that because it’s Thanksgiving, no one is going to have room for a 3 layer cake, so I cut the recipe into thirds and because not everything cuts evenly, I apologize in advance for the wonky amounts of ingredients. Also, I made this cake in an 8.5x4.5 in loaf pan to accommodate for only four people eating it.

The recipe called for brown butter, which I have only worked with brown butter once before, and I can’t remember which recipe it was. I was a little nervous about the butter burning, so I think I took it off the stove a little too early because it was more of a honey color, but no matter. The batter came together perfectly. It was probably the silkiest batter I have ever laid my eyes on and it poured into the loaf pan like a dream.

The final product was even better! I was a little anxious about it being over done because I had to experiment with cooking times on a count of me using a different pan, but when I sliced into the cake after the meal, it was perfectly moist and soft and everything a cake should be! The taste was fabulous too. Even after such a big meal, the cake was halfway gone in mere minutes. This cake was seriously addicting, so go on, what are you waiting for? Go make this cake for someone you love or you could make it for yourself and not share.

Brown Sugar Brown Butter Birthday Cake

1 ¼ cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
¾ cup brown sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup
1 egg + 1 egg white
2/3 tsp vanilla extract


  1. In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter completely. Then let it continue to cook until it turns golden brown in color. Don’t stir, but swirl the pan periodically to ensure it browns easily. Keep your eyes on it, you don’t want it to burn. When browned, put in the fridge to solidify. This will take about 20-30 minutes. You want the butter to still be soft, but not liquid.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 8.5x4.5 in loaf pan.
  3. Sift the all purpose flour a few times. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the brown sugar, brown butter, and ¼ cup + 2 tbsp of the buttermilk. Mix on medium speed until smooth.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, egg white, the remaining 2 tbsp buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Add to the mixer in two additions, mixing after each until just combined. You will need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then turn the mixer up to medium high and beat for a few minutes until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before inverting onto a cake pan to cool completely before glazing.
Maple Glaze
from Joy the Baker

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tbsp milk


  1. Dump the confectioners sugar into a medium-sized bowl. Pour on the maple syrup and milk. Stir with a spoon until the glaze falls down in a ribbon. Set the cake over parchment paper (or serving platter if you wish the have luscious pools of glaze surrounding your cake) and spoon over the cake, letting the glaze drip down the sides. Let stand for a few minutes for the glaze to harden.

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Light Wheat Rolls

    Happy Black Friday everyone! I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with tons of food, friends and everything else that is special about Turkey Day. Also, I hope you didn’t go Black Friday shopping. That is a scary sight and people get trampled and they fight over clothes and appliances. I don‘t think I ever will participate in the event, I‘m too young to die. But If you did go, I hope you got the flat screen TV you’ve been eyeing or whatever it was you wanted to get a good deal on.

    So, on to bread. Every year I’m on roll duty for Thanksgiving. Something about making bread rolls is just fun. Last year I made these Honey Muffins as the carb component of the Thanksgiving meal, and they went so fast. This year I went with wheat rolls. On Thanksgiving Eve, I baked them, and then froze them so they would stay fresh for dinner. 

    These rolls were very light (as their name describes) and fluffy. Everyone thought they were delicious and my mom even said there was a hint of sweetness to them. I kinda felt the same way, but it wasn't overpowering. I'm starting to think that whole wheat flour adds a touch of sweetness to breads, but maybe that's just me. I do love the color that whole wheat flour gives though, so I might be baking with more whole wheat, you never know.

    Light Wheat Rolls
    adapted from Katrina on AllRecipes

    1 package active dry yeast
    ¾ cup + 2 tbsp warm water (110° F)
    ¼ cup sugar
    ½ tsp salt
    2 tbsp butter, melted
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    1 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
    1 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
    egg wash


    1. In a bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve the year in the warm water. Let stand for about 10 minutes until it becomes creamy.
    2. With the hook attachment, mix sugar, salt, melted butter, egg and whole wheat flour into the yeast mixture. Once that has come together, slowly pour in the all purpose flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl.
    3. Pour dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. I had some trouble here and had to keep adding more flour, so if the 1 ½ cups is not enough, don’t be afraid to add more flour.
    4. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the kneaded dough in the bowl, turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set the bowl in a warm place to let the dough rise until it’s doubled, about an hour. Punch the dough down and cover with the damp cloth. Let rise for another 30 minutes or until doubled in volume.
    5. Grease 12 muffin cups. Punch down the dough one last time and divide the dough evenly into 12 portions. I found that weighting the dough was best and then divide it’s weight by 12 to get equal amounts of dough. Roll the dough pieces into 7x1 inch strips. Roll the dough up on the short length creating a spiral. Place the spiral dough into the muffin cups and let rise uncovered for about 40 minutes. Once risen, brush a little bit of egg wash (1 beaten egg + 1 tbsp water) on the top.
    6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm. 

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Sometimes you just want a cookie. For the past week I’ve wanted to make cookies, but life made me put it off. Life is mean that way. Then, life decided to be nice and let me have a day for cookies, which is what I did. I sat down with my sister, who was being weird and not at all helpful, to decide on a cookie to make from Martha Stewart’s Cookies book. I have really taken a liking to Ms. Martha Stewart, I find her fascinating, funny, and sarcastic, which makes her kind of loveable, don’t you think? 

    Anywho, my sister decided that I should make these cookies. I’m always trying to find my perfect chocolate chip cookie and I thought I may as well try them out. Despite their name, these cookies turned out kind flat and soft, not at all cake-like. But, in the recipe, it‘s not really a bad thing.

    This recipe is a little different than most chocolate chip cookie recipes. It calls for more white sugar than brown sugar (usually its equal portions or more brown than white sugar). This makes the cookies really light and contrasts nicely with the semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips thrown in. I’ve found that I like my cookies with way more brown sugar than white sugar; it adds to the rich flavors of a traditional chocolate chip cookie. I have not turned up my nose at these cookies though. Despite them not having a whole lot of brown sugar, these cookies are very tasty. I made half a batch and still got around three dozen cookies (the recipe below is for a full batch). I don’t know why that always happens, maybe it’s the cookie scoop I use, but large or small, you should at least try out these chocolate chip cookies. Mine are almost gone. 

    Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies
    from Martha Stewart's Cookies
    2 ¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour
    ½ tsp baking soda
    1 ¾ sticks (14 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temp
    ¾ cup sugar
    ¼ cup brown sugar
    1 tsp salt
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 eggs
    1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 cup milk chocolate chips


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Whisk together the flour and the baking soda in a medium-sized bowl. Set that aside too.
    2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and two sugars together on medium speed until light, creamy, and fluffy looking. Turn the speed down to low and add salt, vanilla and eggs. Turn the speed back up to medium / medium-high and beat until the ingredients have come together. Turn the speed back down to low and gently add in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
    3. Using a portion scoop, drop the cookies onto the parchment paper 2 inches apart. I recommend not putting more than 12 cookies per sheet because they will spread a little and I had a small issue with over crowding. Bake cookies until the edges are a light golden and the centers are set, about 8-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the tray for at least 2 minutes before moving them to a cooling wrack to cool completely.
    Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Cake slice Bakers - November 2011: Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake

    It’s the 20th again and that means the Cake Slice Bakers are posting November’s cake. You may (or may not) have noticed that I did not get a chance to post last month’s cake, time just got away from me. This month I promised myself I would make the cake chosen from our new book The Cake Book by Tish Boyle. All of the cakes in this book sound incredible and there are over 300 pages of recipes. It’s broken down into Angel Food, Chiffon, and Sponge Cakes; Pound and Coffee Cakes; Butter- and Oil-Based Cakes; Fruit-Based Cakes; Flourless Cakes; Cheesecakes; Mousse and Ice Cream Cakes; and Meringue Cakes. As you can see, this book touches on EVERYTHING! There’s even an entire section devoted to different frostings and toppings.

    For November’s cake, the bakers decided on a cheesecake recipe. I know it’s not the conventional cake, but it just looked so good (there are not many pictures in this book, but the few that are shown are all beautiful). I have never made cheesecake prior to this, and I was a little nervous because I have heard horror stories of water leaking into the pan and cracked tops. To my surprise, I had absolutely no trouble baking this cheesecake (except for the two trips to the grocery store at 7 in the morning to get forgotten ingredients), and it turned out really well.
    As mentioned above, I did in fact make two trips to the grocery store at 7 am because I thought I had four eggs, but I had forgotten to take into account that my dad eats eggs every day. Then, when I was portioning out the cream cheese, I realized that I was about 200 grams short of cream cheese. And even after all of those trips to the grocery store, I still forgot to buy pecans for the crust! Well I wasn’t going to go to the grocery store for the third time in 30 minutes, so I improvised; I made a graham cracker crust with brown sugar and cinnamon.

    The filling was the creamiest things ever. I ended up eating my slice(s) kinda slow and I could never finish the cheesecake, it was kind of rich, but not overwhelmingly so. This cheesecake is also very forgiving I believe. I realized after I had put the better into the pan, I had not used enough cream cheese! So, I ended up only putting around maybe 530 grams of cream cheese instead of the full 567 grams. I also used 1/3 less fat cream cheese because that was the kind I had on hand and when I bought the second tub, I decided just to stick with the same cream cheese. But really, I don’t think this cheesecake could have gotten any better, well, except I did omit the sugared pumpkin seeds because I couldn’t find raw pumpkin, let alone any kind of pumpkin seeds.

    I’m really glad that the Cake Slice Bakers chose to do a cheesecake this month because it gave me a chance to do something I’ve never done before. Check out how the other members of CSB did this month here.

    Brown Sugar Graham Cracker Crust

    9 graham cracker sheets
    3 tbsp brown sugar
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    4 tbsp butter, melted

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap a two layers of tin foil around a 9 in spring form pan. Lightly spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray.
    2. Break up graham cracker crumbs and place them in a food processor. Pulse until all of the crackers are broken up and become finely ground. Add in the sugar and the cinnamon and pulse until combined. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse until the crumb mixture becomes moist and starts to pack together.
    3. Empty the packed crumb mixture into the prepared pan. Using a cup or something flat, press the crumb mixture down into the pan, leaving an even layer on the bottom. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust has browned a little. Take out of the oven and let cool while you make the filling.
    Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
    from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book

    1 cup pumpkin puree
    ½ cup heavy whipping cream
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    ½ tsp ground ginger
    ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
    ¼ tsp salt
    1 ¼ pound cream cheese, soft
    ½ cup sugar
    ½ cup brown sugar
    1 tbsp corn starch
    4 eggs

    1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
    2. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed until it becomes creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Gradually add in both sugars until fully incorporated. Add the pumpkin mixture and beat until blended. Add the corn starch and mix until just combined. Drop the eggs in one at a time, making sure to fully beat one before another gets mixed in. Scrape down the bowl as you go.
    3. Scrape the batter into the spring form pan. Place the pan in a roasting dish and place on the middle rack of the oven. Carefully pour in enough hot water into the pan for it to rise about an inch up the sides of the pan. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 70-80 minutes, or until the outside edges are set and the very center is just a little wobbly. The cheesecake will set completely as it cools.
    4. Immediately after taking the cheesecake out of the oven, take it out of its water bath, put it on a cooling wrack, and run a paring knife around the edges. This will help prevent those pesky cracks on the top of the cheesecake. Let the cake cool completely before storing it in the fridge. Chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before slicing.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Brown Turkey Rice Krispie Treat

    It’s almost Thanksgiving! I can’t believe the past few months have gone by so quickly, I mean it feels like yesterday that it was October 16.

    I have been so behind on my baking, and I feel bad because then my little blog gets neglected. So on Monday, I decided to whip up something quick and easy, yet something we all know and love: rice krispie treats!

    This recipe is straight forward and just like every other rice krispie treat that anyone has ever made, except it has a little summin’ summin’ added to it: 1. it’s a chocolate rice krispie treat and 2. it looks like a turkey in honor of Turkey Day month. I personally think they are just so gosh darn adorable!
    I know this post is short, but hopefully I’ll have some more goodies to add this weekend. Have a great rest of your week guys!

    Turkey Rice Krispies
    2 tbsp unsalted butter
    24 regular-sized marshmallows
    2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
    3 cups rice krispie cereal
    36 candy corn pieces
    6 Dots candies
       (make sure colors match as these will be the eyes)

    1. Line a 9x9 inch square baking dish with foil. Make sure to leave a little bit of an overhang in order to easily lift out the cooled mixture.
    2. In a 3 quart sauce pan melt the butter on low heat. Once the butter is fully melted, add in the marshmallows and raise the heat up to medium-low. Wait for the marshmallows to fully melt.
    3. Once everything has melted, stir in the cocoa powder. Add in the rice krispie cereal and stir until all of the cereal bits are coated in the chocolate marshmallow mixture.
    4. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly to all the edges. The mixture may get really sticky, so to avoid sticking to your treats, spray a little bit of Pam on your hands. Let the mixture cool and set completely before lifting the set mixture out of the pan.
    5. Using a circular biscuit ring, cut out nine circles. You may choose to nibble on the little extras. Now, place three candy corn pieces around the top half of the circle, point facing inwards. These are the feathers. Place a fourth candy corn piece towards the bottom of the circle, parallel to the “feathers”. This is the beak, and what I like to do is find the mutated candy corns (the ones that didn’t get the white tip on the end) to use as the beak; it looks more turkey-like that way. Now, take your Dots candies and cut the tips off each one. Take the rest of the dots, and cut off the tip again. To clarify, you have cut each Dot candy into three segments. Place the sticky side down in the middle of the circle, between the feathers and the beak. Now it has eyes.
    6. Take a step back and admire your cute little turkey treats.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Two-Tone Yeast Bread

    Yeast smells so good they should make a candle sent out of it. I would buy it, wouldn’t you? Over the weekend I was reminded just how intoxicating that smell was. I haven’t made bread since… well this cinnamon swirl bread I made last year.

    Last week (or was it longer? I haven’t added anything new to the blog in a while and I apologize.) I mentioned that my cookbooks and magazines were feeling neglected because all of the recipes I have been using come from the Internet. Let’s face it though, the Internet is a handy gadget. So, I made a promise to my hardback recipes that I would use them, and it’s amazing how many recipes I have tagged and never thought of again. I really should keep better track records of what I flag.

    This little gem of a recipe comes from the Taste of Home Fall Baking 2011 edition magazine. I had forgotten how long it takes to make bread, at least when you’re still a novice, and thankfully I had the time change to help me for once. (I got up at 5am because of that stupid time change.)

    This is a two-tone bread and I was kind of nervous and excited for this recipe. Nervous because this is only my second time working with yeast, but excited because I was baking bread, and homemade bread is one of the tastiest things ever! The only tricky part about making this was getting the second dough to catch up to the first dough. It calls for an hour rising time and by the time I was done with the second dough, the first one had almost doubled in size.

    The end product was so tasty. It was soft and moist and kinda sweet with a hint of whole grain. Not to mention, there is molasses in this, and with various holidays coming up, I think it would make a great bread for Thanksgiving. You could probably bake it in a pretty loaf pan and tie it with a bow to give to someone as a holiday gift. Or, you know, you could keep it all to yourself and slather it with some butter or jam to have for breakfast or afternoon snack, your choice.

    Two-Tone Yeast Bread
    slightly adapted from Taste of Home Fall Baking
    makes 2 loaves

    1 package (¼ oz) active dry yeast
    1 ½ cups warm milk (110-115° F)
    2 tbsp + 1 ½ tsp sugar
    2 tbsp + 1 ½ tsp butter, very soft
    1 ½ tsp salt
    3 ¼ - 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

    1 package (¼ oz) active dry yeast
    1 ½ cups warm milk (110-115° F)
    3 tbsp molasses
    2 tbsp + 1 ½ tsp sugar
    2 tbsp + 1 ½ tsp butter, very soft
    1 ½ tsp salt
    2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
    2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour


    1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, then transfer into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the soft butter, sugar, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Beat with the paddle attachment for 3 minutes. Add in more flour until the dough has become soft and just a tad sticky (I used about 3 ½-3 ¾ cups flour).
    2. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 6 minutes or until dough has become smooth and elastic. Place dough in a large glass bowl greased with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to double in size, about an hour.
    3. For the molasses dough, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in another bowl. Once the yeast has dissolved, place in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the molasses, sugar, soft butter, salt and all purpose flour. Beat until smooth. Gently beat in enough of the whole wheat flour to form a soft and slightly sticky dough (I used about 1 ¾ cups of whole wheat flour).
    4. Turn dough onto a slightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes (for some reason, this one came together faster). Place in a large glass bowl greased with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to double in size, about an hour and a half.
    5. Punch each dough down and divide in half (so you have four balls of dough total). Roll one of the white portions out into a 12 in x 8 inch rectangle. Roll one of the molasses portions out into the same sized rectangle. Place one dough on top of the other, it doesn’t matter which. Roll up jelly-roll style and pinch seams and ends together so the inside dough doesn’t peak through.  
    6. Place seam side down in an 8 in x 4 in loaf pan (Do this is you want a giant mound. I used an 8 in x 4 in and a 9 in x 5 in loaf pan and I think the second one fit better.). Repeat with the two remaining doughs. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for another 30-45 minutes. 
    7. Bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes or until the tops are a golden brown and the bottom of the pan makes a hollow sound when tapped. Cool in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes before removing. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
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