Apple Bourbon Bundt Cake

This Apple Bourbon Bundt Cake is especially dedicated to my friends who like a little booze in their baked goods.  I baked this cake a few months ago in December, and it tastes and smells just like the holiday season with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and is extra moist and tender from the apples.  The bourbon glaze adds an adult kick to an otherwise wholesome cake.

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Apple Bourbon Bundt Cake

Makes one bundt cake
(from NY Times Cooking)
My notes are in [   ] below.

Ingredients

Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter (226 grams) at room temperature, plus more to grease pan
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (315 grams) plus more to dust the pan
3 tablespoons (30 grams)
½ cup (90 grams) candied ginger, chopped
1 ¾ cup (330 grams) light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons (3 grams) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (5 grams) fine sea salt
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup (227 grams) sour cream
1 tablespoon (15 grams) vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoon (5 grams) finely grated lemon zest
2 medium Granny Smith apples about a pound (454 grams) peeled, cored, and coarsely grated
1 cup (120 grams) finely chopped, toasted pecans

Bourbon Syrup

1/2 cup (80 grams) bourbon or rye whiskey [use a good quality bourbon]
½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon (20 grams)

Directions

Cake

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. [Make sure to thoroughly prepare the pan as this cake can be a little delicate and stick to the pan after baking.]
  3. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons bourbon and the candied ginger. Let stand 10 minutes.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the brown sugar and the 2 sticks of butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
  7. In another bowl, whisk together the sour cream and vanilla.
  8. Pour in the bourbon from the ginger mixture (reserve ginger) into the sour cream and vanilla mixture, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest.
  9. With the mixer on medium speed, add the dry mixture and sour cream mixture to the wet mixture in three additions, alternating between the two.
  10. Fold in the ginger, apples, and pecans.
  11. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out dry, about 1 hour 10 minutes.
  12. Cool in the pan 20 minutes, then run a paring knife around the sides of the pan to release the cake; cool, flat side down, on a wire rack.

Bourbon Syrup

  1. While the cake cools, combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup bourbon in a small saucepan. Over low heat, gently stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the lemon juice and take off the heat.
  2. While the cake cools, make 10 slits on top with a paring knife and pour half the bourbon-sugar mixture on the still-warm cake. When the cake is fully cool, flip it and pour the rest of the glaze on the other side, then flip again to serve. [I only used half of the glaze as I found the alcohol flavor a bit overwhelming, but that’s expected as I don’t drink alcohol.]

Lemon Curd (Ina Garten’s version)

Of the many versions of lemon curd that I’ve made, Ina Garten’s seems to be the easiest and most foolproof to make.  Typically making lemon curd requires some slightly fussy steps like separating the egg yolks from the whites, but this version uses the whole egg.  This version also does not require straining the curd through a sieve to remove any egg white residue.  The only change I would make is to reduce the sugar by 1/8 to 1/4 cup as the curd is quite sweet.  I like to pair my lemon curd with a crisp, thin gingersnap, but I’ve heard of people who eat it straight from the spoon (I’m not naming any names).

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Lemon Curd (Ina Garten’s version)

From Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
My notes are in [  ] below.

Ingredients

3 lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar [This lemon curd is quite sweet, so next time I’ll reduce the sugar to  1 1/4 cups]
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 extra-large eggs [I happened to have extra-large eggs on hand which doesn’t occur very often.  I’m not sure what the equivalent would be if you use large eggs.]
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. [I used a microplate lemon zester to zest the lemons instead of using the carrot peeler.]. 
  2. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
  3. Cream the butter [I did this using a stand mixer].
  4. Beat in the sugar and lemon mixture.
  5. Add the eggs, 1 at a time and mix well.
  6. Add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
  7. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes) [it took about 15 minutes until my curd thickened, and I had to adjust the heat to low-medium], stirring constantly [stirring constantly is important because it keeps the egg from turning into scrambled eggs]. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer.
  8. Remove from the heat and cool.  Store in the refrigerator.

Citrus Butter Cake

My little citrus tree is a few years away from producing a solid crop, but luckily I have fantastic neighbors who keep me stocked with lemons from their backyard tree.  This flavorful lemon and orange pound cake has a dense and tender texture, and the glaze creates the most crave worthy, chewy, slightly caramelized top .  Since I had lemons to spare, I also made some lemon curd and slathered it on top of a slice of toasted citrus butter cake for an extra decadent breakfast.
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Citrus Butter Loaf Cake

(from Johnny Iuzzini’s Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking)
Makes one 41⁄2 × 81⁄2-inch loaf cake (or one 9-inch round cake); serves 8 to 10

Ingredients

Cake

1⁄2 pound (2 sticks; 226 g) cold unsalted butter, diced, plus more for the pan
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 1⁄2 cups (300 g) sugar
Grated zest of 2 lemons
Grated zest of 1 orange
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons (45 g) buttermilk, at room temperature (I rarely have fresh buttermilk on hand so I use dried buttermilk powder)
3 tablespoons (45 g) fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons (45 g) fresh orange juice
1 1⁄2 teaspoons (6 g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (4 g) kosher salt

Glaze

2 tablespoons buttermilk (30 g)
1 tablespoon honey (20 g)

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Butter and flour a 41⁄2 × 81⁄2-inch loaf pan.  Using this combination of butter and flour ensures that the sides will brown nicely.
  3. Stir together (by hand) the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer until the butter is coated.
  4. Attach the bowl to the mixer and using the paddle, beat the butter-sugar mixture on medium speed until it is well combined, and no lumps of butter remain, 5 minutes.
  5. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula between additions.
  6. In a separate bowl, stir together the buttermilk, lemon juice, and orange juice.
  7. In another bowl, sift together the 2 cups (250 g) flour and the baking powder in a bowl.  Sprinkle the salt over the top.
  8. With the mixer on low speed, alternate between adding the dry and wet ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 additions (begin and end with the dry ingredients).
  9. Scrape down the bowl several times, and mix the batter just until smooth.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with a spatula.  On the middle rack of the oven, bake for 15 minutes (this step helps ensure a browned top).  (For a 9-inch cake, bake at 375°F for 40 minutes, brush the top of the cake with the glaze, and then bake for an additional 5 minutes.)
  11. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F, and bake for an additional 35 to 40 minutes until the cake is golden brown, and a tester inserted into the thickest part comes out clean.  Make sure not to underbake the cake, otherwise it will get even mushier as it cools.  Rotate the pan halfway through to ensure even baking. Leave the oven on (as you’ll need to bake an additional few minutes after adding the glaze).

Glaze

This glaze is absolutely delicious and creates a great texture for the top of the cake, so don’t skip this step.

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and honey until well combined.
  2. When the cake is done, brush the glaze evenly over the surface. Put the cake back into the oven, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the cake from the oven, and let it cool completely in the pan on a rack before turning it out of the pan.  Slice and serve.

Shortbread Toffee Bars

One of my favorite things to bake (and other people’s favorite thing to eat) is shortbread caramel bars.  Even though I’ve made countless variations, I can never resist trying a slightly different recipe.  These Shortbread Toffee Bars are very sweet and rich, and a little goes a long way.  The shortbread bottom and chocolate topping are typical of this type of recipe, but the center is less chewy and less caramely and more toffee-like with a slight crumbly texture.  Risk takers who enjoy baking on the edge may especially enjoy cooking the toffee center as the longer you cook it, the more toffee-like and rich-flavored it will be, but you also run a high risk of burning it.

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Shortbread Toffee Bars

Makes one 9×13 inch pan of bars
(from the kitchn)
I’ve made a few tweaks to the original recipe and added more details to the original directions.

Ingredients

Shortbread 

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

Toffee

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) salted butter
1 cup sugar
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Chocolate Topping

1 bag (10 ounces) good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
Sea salt (optional)

Directions

Shortbread

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  If you would like really easy removal of your bars from the pan, you can line the pan with parchment paper.  I did not do that, and my bars came out of the pan fairly easily, but next time I’ll probably line with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the flour and beat on low speed until crumbly, making sure not to over-mix the dough.
  4. Press the dough into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and make sure to pack it down well.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool while you’re making the toffee.

Toffee

  1. In a large saucepan over low heat, stir together the butter, sugar, condensed milk, and maple syrup until well combined.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  The mixture can burn quickly and easily, so make sure to keep stirring.  Continue to cook the mixture until it is thick and golden brown (but not burnt), about 8-10 minutes.  The deeper brown the toffee is, the more flavorful it will be.  Lighter colored toffee will taste more like sugar.
  3. Pour the toffee on top of the shortbread, and use an offset spatula to  spread the mixture to the edges.
  4. Allow the toffee to set at least an hour or overnight.

Chocolate Topping

  1. Melt the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave.
  2. Pour the chocolate over the cooled toffee layer, and spread to the edges with and offset spatula.
  3. Sprinkle with sea salt (if using), and cool completely.  Since these bars are quite sweet, a sprinkle of sea salt would work well.  I forgot to sprinkle mine with sea salt.
  4. Once the mixture has a cooled a little, you can put the bars in the refrigerator to firm up the chocolate (this will also make cutting the bars a bit neater).
  5. Once everything has cooled completely, cut into squares (1 1/2 inch squares are a good size since these bars are so sweet and rich).  If you refrigerated your bars, let them sit out at room temperature to soften a little before cutting (if you cut the bars when they’re cold, the layers may separate and crumble).

Vanilla Cake with Sweet Cream Syrup & Butterscotch Frosting

This is a vanilla cake.  But it’s not just any old regular vanilla cake.  It’s a vanilla cake brushed with a sweet cream syrup, slathered with butterscotch frosting, and covered with nonpareils.  The recipe for this little beauty comes from Cake Magic: Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations, a cookbook that provide so many combinations of cake flavors, syrups, and frostings that you could bake a cake every day for several months and never make the same thing.

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Vanilla Cake with Sweet Cream Syrup & Butterscotch Frosting

Makes one nine-inch, 2-layer cake
(from Cake Magic: Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations)
My notes are in [  ] below.

Ingredients

Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup full-fat plain yogurt (not Greek yogurt)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, or 1 cup vegetable oil [I prefer butter because it’s provides a richer flavor.]
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Sweet Cream Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butterscotch Frosting

[I only made half of this frosting recipe.  It was enough frosting for a thin layer between the two layers, and fully frosting the top of the cake. For me it kept the cake from being too sweet.] 
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup malted milk powder [I used dry milk powder, without the malt]
Pinch of salt
4 cups (about 16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon butterscotch flavor or to taste [I used Frontier Butterscotch Flavor.  You can use 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract if you want to make vanilla frosting]

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter the bottom and the side of two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans [or a 10-inch Bundt cake pan, a 13×9 inch sheet cake pan, ).  Dust with flour to coat, then invert and tap out any excess.   24 cupcakes- use liners, no need for greasing and coating the tins.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
  3. Stir in the yogurt, butter, water, vanilla, and eggs until moistened and no lumps remain (be careful not to overmix).
  4. Divide the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake until the layers are domed and golden brown, and a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer interested in the center of the cake, 30-40 minutes (40-50 minutes for a Bundt, 25-30 minutes for a 13×9-inch cake, and 20-25 minutes for cupcakes).

Sweet Cream Syrup

  1. While the cake is baking, make the sweet cream syrup.
  2. Combine the sugar, cream, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Set aside to cool.
  4. Use the syrup warm or let it stand covered, until it reaches room temperature.  Note: Sweet cream syrup will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week.  Reheat in a small saucepan over low heat before using.
  5. After removing the hot cake layers from the oven, pierce them, while still in their pans, at one-inch intervals with a skewer or a paring knife to create channels for the syrup to seep into the cakes.
  6. Pour or generously brush the syrup over the surface of the hot layers, dividing it between them as evenly as possible.
  7. Transfer the soaked layers (still in their pans) to a wire rack to cool completely (1 to 2 hours).  When they are cooled and no longer wet to touch, carefully turn them out of their pants and frost.

Butterscotch Frosting

  1. Make the frosting while the cake cools.
  2. Combine the butter, milk powder, salt, and two cups of the confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar, and beat on medium speed until the frosting is pale and no longer grainy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the butterscotch flavor (or vanilla extract), and beat until frosting is very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Note: the frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 1 week.  Before using, bring it back to room temperature and stir vigorously or beat it again for best results.
  5. Frost the cooled cake layers.

Gingerbread Bundt Cake

It’s the middle of the holiday rush, so let’s keep this short and sweet. This gingerbread cake is 100% verified delicious.  It’s easy to make, super flavorful, and tender, and has a slightly crispy top due to the gingerbread glaze.   And you can make it look fancy by baking it in a bundt cake pan (my favorite bundt cake pan makes four mini cakes).  Go bake this!

Gingerbread Bundt Cake

Makes one 9-cup bundt cake or four mini bundt cakes
(from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients

Cake

2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) gingerbread spice; or 2 1/2 teaspoons ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (6 ounces) molasses
1 cup (8 ounces) water

Glaze

1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) rum or water
1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice; or 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease a 10- to 12-cup bundt-style pan or a 9-cup quartet bundt cake pan.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, gingerbread spice, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
  6. Stir in the molasses.
  7. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the water, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just until smooth.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
  9. Bake the cake for 55 to 65 minutes if using a 10-12 cup Bundt pan, or 30 minutes if using a quartet Bundt pan, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. While the cake is baking, make the glaze.  Whisk together the water, spice, and sugar, and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar melts and the mixture thickens a little. Set aside.
  11. Remove the cake from the oven, cool it in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack.
  12. Brush the cake with the glaze, and allow it to cool completely before serving.

Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread

I’m on the cranberry train this holiday season.  Here’s another recipe that does a great job of contrasting tart cranberries with spicy, sweet gingerbread.  The addition of molasses and maple syrup make this cake a little sticky and give the cake a shiny top.  Because this cake is a bit sweet,  a little goes a long way, and if you need to cut the sweetness a bit, it’s delicious served with whipped cream.   img_72481

Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread

Makes one 9 inch cake
(from New York Times Cooking)
My notes are in [  ] below.

Ingredients

2 cups (8 ounces; 266 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 stick (4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter
cup (133 grams) dark brown sugar
½ cup (120 milliliters) whole milk
½ cup (120 milliliters) maple syrup
¼ cup (60 milliliters) molasses
1 ½ cups (185 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (5 grams) ground ginger
½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon (3 grams) baking powder
½ teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
¼ teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon (14 grams) grated fresh ginger (from 1-inch piece) [I didn’t have fresh ginger so I left it out]

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350° degrees.
  2. Line a 9-inch square or round baking pan with parchment.  [Don’t skip this step as the cake is really sticky and will stick to the bottom of the pan after it’s baked.]
  3. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together cranberries, granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon water. Stir the cranberries over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and cranberries form a sauce that is syrupy and bubbling thickly, about 10 minutes. Aim to have about half the cranberries broken down, with the remainder more or less whole.
  4. In a separate saucepan, stir together the butter, brown sugar, milk, maple syrup and molasses over medium heat. Bring it to just barely a simmer and then remove it from the heat. Do not let it come to a boil, or the mixture may curdle.
  5. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, baking soda and black pepper. Beat in the butter-maple syrup mixture and then beat in the eggs. Stir in the ginger.
  6. Scrape the batter into the pan. Drop fat dollops of cranberry sauce onto the surface of the cake batter. Drag a long, slender knife through the batter in a swirly design, as if you are marbling a cake.
  7. Transfer the cake to the oven and bake it until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. [I baked mine for 45 minutes and it was almost overbaked, so keep an eye on it while it’s in the oven.]
  8. Transfer the pan to a wire baking rack, and let the cake cool completely before eating it.

Southwestern Squash and Black Bean Quiche with Cornbread Crust

The amount of time that it takes to make this Southwestern Squash and Black Bean Quiche with Cornbread Crust is about equivalent to how long the name of this dish is.  Between making the cornbread, roasting the squash and garlic, assembling the quiche, baking it, and the one hour recommended cooling time, it’s a beast to make (we’re talking several hours).  You have to be persistent, optimistic, and patient and have no where to be with several hours to spare; otherwise this recipe will kick your butt.  But the payoff from all that time and effort is pretty spectacular.  The quiche is incredibly flavorful and hearty and tastes a bit like the perfect marriage between chili and cornbread with a little extra je ne sais quois magic thrown in.  I really can’t rave enough about how totally delicious it is.  That said, I will most likely never make this again.

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Southwestern Squash and Black Bean Quiche with Cornbread Crust

Makes about 8 servings
(from Fine Cooking)
My notes are in [  ] below.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil; more for the pie plate
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Kosher salt
8 ounce butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
4 medium cloves garlic
1/2 recipe Sour Cream Cornbread, crumbled (about 3 cups; save the remaining cornbread for another use)
1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 cup canned low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
4 large eggs
6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)

Directions

[Before you even start with the directions below, it’s assumed that you’ve already baked and cooled your cornbread.]

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Grease a deep 9- or 10-inch pie plate (with a capacity of at least 6 cups) with olive oil. [Make sure you pie plate is deep enough.  Otherwise your quiche will spill out and all your hard work will be wasted.]
  3. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, lime zest, brown sugar, coriander, cumin, chipotle powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, coat the squash with the olive oil. Add the spice mixture and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer in a small roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. Wrap the garlic cloves in aluminum foil. Roast until just tender, about 20 minutes for the squash and 40 minutes for the garlic. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins into a small bowl and mash with a fork.
  5. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
  6. Put the crumbled cornbread in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, and stir to combine. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Pierce the bottom several times with a fork. Bake until the crust is deep golden, about 15 minutes.
  7. In a small bowl, mash the beans and 1 tablespoon of water with a fork. Season to taste with salt, and spread in the bottom of the crust, using wet fingers to press down evenly. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet.
  8. Whisk the remaining 1-1/2 cups milk and the eggs in a large bowl. Fold in the roasted garlic, squash, cheese, scallions, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour into the crust.
  9. Bake until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cover the crust with aluminum foil or a pie shield if it starts getting dark.
  10. Cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Buttermilk Biscones (Biscuit crossed with a Scone)

I think my fellow biscuit lovers will agree that a good biscuit can be hard to come by.  All too often, I’ve been lured in by a restaurant’s promise of “world’s best biscuit” only to be disappointed when the biscuit shows up as a dense, dry, flavorless mound of bread.  But I’m here to tell you that there’s hope for biscuit bliss, and you can find it with these Buttermilk Biscones.  The recipe combines the best parts of a scone and a biscuit into a tender, flaky, light, and flavorful buttermilk biscuit.  And if you thought things couldn’t get any better, the recipe is also easy to make (no rolling and cutting the dough, and no mixer needed).

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Buttermilk Biscones

Make about 12-14 biscuits
(from The Back in the Day Cookbook)
My notes are in [   ] below.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising) [it’s worth it to use cake flour so your biscones will be light and airy]
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon herb mix (optional) [I had an Italian herb mix that I added for some additional flavor]
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, or as needed
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of fine seal salt, for egg wash
Sea salt/kosher salt for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the over to 375°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and herb mix (if using), and whisk until completely incorporated.
  3. Add the  butter, and working quickly, cut it with a pastry lender.  You should have various-sized pieces of butter, from sandy patches to pea-sized chunks, and some larger bits as well.
  4. Gradually pour in the buttermilk and gently fold the ingredients until you have a soft dough and there are no bits of flour in the bottom of the bowl.  You should still see lumps of butter in the dough; these will give you lift and flaky biscones.  If the dough seems dry, you may need to add a little more buttermilk.  The dough should be moist and slightly sticky.
  5. Gently pat down the dough with your hands right in the bowl until it resembles a loaf of bread. Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour.
  6. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, arranging them about 1 1/2 inches apart so that the biscones have room to rise and puff up.  Lightly tap down on the tops of the biscones. [I didn’t tap down on my biscones because I like they a bit puffier.]
  7. Brush the tops and sides of the biscones liberally with the egg wash.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  8. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through for even baking, until the biscones are lightly golden and fully baked.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

[Note:  These are best eaten the day they are made.  They’ll lose their light, airy texture as time passes.]

Delta Caramel Cake

Sigh… it’s been one of those baking days when nothing seems to turn out how I’d like it too.  I  took advantage of the extra hour from Daylight Savings by baking a super rich, delicious, chocolate stout cake, and the cake was out of the oven and cooling, all before 10am.  But disaster struck when I discovered that the cake was glued to my Bundt cake pan, and in my attempt to turned it out of the pan, it became a pile of crumbled chocolate cake rubble.  Unwilling to submit to cake failure, I turned to my second choice recipe to try, Delta Caramel Cake.  It’s basically a rich, tender yellow cake slathered with a thick caramel icing.  The cake was quick and easy to bake, but the caramel icing was another story.  I like to think of myself as a bit of a caramel making expert so I didn’t hesitate when I read in the recipe introduction that “it’s a labor of love to make”.  Sigh… I think it all started going downhill when I added the caramelized sugar to the evaporated milk mixture and everything got lumpy, no matter how much I stirred and coaxed it to meld together.  Still I forged ahead, unwilling to submit to two cake disasters in one day.  I picked out the especially big chunks of sugar from the icing and half heartedly frosted the cake.  I held my breath as I cut a small slice of cake to test it out (at this point, I wouldn’t have been surprised if this cake tasted terrible given the day’s baking mishaps), but to my relief and delight, this cake is so delicious that it has helped soothe my bruised baking ego.  I’m not posting the caramel icing recipe because I don’t trust it.  BUT this cake recipe makes one of the tastiest yellow cakes I’ve had, so it makes a great base for any of your favorite toppings, icings, frostings, etc.

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Delta Caramel Cake 

Makes one 2-layer 9-inch round cake, serves 12
(from Anne Byrn’s American Cake)

Ingredients

Shortening/butter and flour, or non stick baking spray for prepping the cake pans
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk, warmed

Directions

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease and flour the bottom of two 9-inch round or square pans.  I like using a non stick baking spray with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixtures is combined and lightens in color, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the bowl as needed.
  5. Mix in the vanilla extract, and set aside.
  6. In a medium size bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  7. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Blend on low speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute more.
  8. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.  Smooth out the top of the batter with a spatula.
  9. Bake the cake until it’s golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, about 25-30 minutes.
  10. Remove the pans from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the pans, and turn out the cakes.  Then flip the cakes one more time so they can cool right side up.
  11. Since I’m not recommending the caramel icing recipe that I used, feel free to frost the cake however you want when the layers have cooled.