Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl

Halloween Dessert Alert!!  If you’re going to consume a lot of sugar this Halloween, why not do it with this Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl?  At its most basic level, it’s a spicy pumpkin cake with a thick cream cheese frosting swirled through the middle of it rather than slathered on top.  Shortly out of the oven (while still a little warm), the top layer is a little hard and crispy, but when you break through that layer, underneath it lies the cream cheese swirl which is rich, smooth, creamy, and sweet.  The pumpkin bread layer below that is super tender, cinnamony, and reminiscent of all things good about fall baking and the holidays.    I encountered a few issues while making this recipe, one being that the cake wasn’t very good looking when it came out of the oven (as a result of the cream cheese swirl seeping up to top, foaming, and then cooling to hard, crispy shards that I then peel off from the top of bread), and it’s also a bit of a guessing game as to when it’s ready to take out of the oven (the top layer of my bread had crisped up, but the cream cheese filling below had seeped up through the top batter and was causing the bread to have a weird bounce when I pressed down on the top for doneness).  That said, this bread is absolutely delicious and will give you a sugar rush like no other.

I was a little annoyed that it wasn’t very pretty out of the oven.  The lighter areas of the cake are where the cream cheese frosting seeped up through the top batter.

Pumpkin Bread w cheesecake swirl- kitchn1

But slicing it open revealed some deliciously beautiful layers.

Pumpkin Bread w cheesecake swirl- kitchn3 Pumpkin Bread w cheesecake swirl- kitchn7

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl

(from the kitchn)
Makes one (9×5-inch) loaf
My notes are in [italics] below.

Ingredients

Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 cup (8 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) canola oil
1 cup (8 1/2 ounces) pumpkin purée [I only used 7.5 ounces of pumpkin puree which is half of a 15 oz can]
2 tablespoons sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (8 ounces) powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper so there is an overhang on each long side. Coat the parchment paper with baking spray or butter and flour. [I forgot to coat the parchment paper and my bread still released easily.  Don’t omit using parchment though; if you do, your cake will be a mess to get out of the pan.]
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the egg and sugar.  Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  5. Turn the speed down to low and, pouring very slowly, drizzle the oil down the side of the bowl.
  6. Add the pumpkin, sour cream, and vanilla, and mix until smooth.
  7. Turn the mixer off.  Add the flour mixture and fold in by hand until just combined.
  8. Transfer the mixture back to the bowl used for the flour, and set aside.
  9. Rinse out and dry the bowl of the stand mixer and the paddle attachment in order to make the filling.
  10. Combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and 1/4 cup of the pumpkin batter, and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  11. Pour half the pumpkin bread batter into the prepared loaf pan, spreading evenly. [Make sure you divide the batter evenly.  If you don’t have enough batter for the top layer to fully cover the cream cheese filling, you’ll have a bit of a mess on your hands.]
  12. Spoon the cream cheese filling over the batter and smooth it out.
  13. Cover the cream cheese filling with the remaining pumpkin bread batter.
  14. Bake the pumpkin bread for 1 hour, or until the center springs back when pressed with your fingertip. (If your finger sinks, bake 10 to 15 minutes longer.) [I baked mine for 1 hour 5 minutes, but it was difficult to tell if the bread was ready to be taken out of the oven.]
  15. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then pull the loaf out using the parchment paper “handles” to cool completely.

Note: The pumpkin bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to three days, or frozen for up to 2 weeks. Thaw overnight at room temperature before serving.

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Heath Toffee Bits & Mini Chocolate Chips

New bundt cake pan + a friend’s birthday = an excuse to bake a cake.  OK, who am I kidding, it takes very little to motivate me to bake. If someone sneezes, I can find a way to make that into an opportunity to bake.  This recipe for Sour Cream Pound Cake with Heath Toffee Bits & Mini Chocolate Chips is a monster of a cake coming in at 12 cups of batter.  My charming heart-shaped bundt pan only holds 10 cups, but I took a chance with hoping it wouldn’t rise too much and overflow during baking.  Luckily batter overflow disaster was averted this time, but next time I’ll bake this in a 12 cup tube pan.  The cake is tender and buttery, with a distinctive almond flavor (due to the almond extract).  You can experiment with your own add ins, but I used Heath toffee bits and mini chocolate chips because I needed to use them up (and they’re small enough so that they stay evenly distributed throughout the batter and wouldn’t sink to the bottom of the batter while baking).

The cake rises quite a bit so make sure to leave some headroom at the top of your pan for rising during baking.

Sour Cream Pound Cake-Penzeys1

The cake is delicious on its own without a glaze or frosting.

Sour Cream Pound Cake-Penzeys5

But it’s even prettier with a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top.  Here’s a link to the Heart Tiered Bundt Pan.

Sour Cream Pound Cake-Penzeys6 Sour Cream Pound Cake-Penzeys7

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Heath Toffee Bits & Mini Chocolate Chips

(Adapted from Penzey’s)

Makes one 12-cup bundt or tube cake pan (this cake makes a lot of batter that rises quite a bit during baking, so make sure you have the correct size cake pan or divide the batter up among smaller cake pans)

Ingredients

2 sticks unsalted butter (8 ounces)
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Cake Enhancer (optional)
1 cup sour cream

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Grease and flour a 10 to 12 cup bundt pan or tube pan.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until lightened in color and well mixed.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
  5. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
  6. In a separate large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cake enhancer (optional).
  7. Add about 1/4 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix.  Alternate adding the sour cream and flour mixture while mixing, and finish with adding the flour mixture.
  8. Stir in the chocolate chips and Heath bits.
  9. Pour the batter into the bundt or tube pan.  Make sure the batter does not fill the pan completely as the cake rises quite a bit while baking.
  10. Gently tap the filled pan against the counter to settle the batter and get rid of any air pockets.  Smooth out the top of the batter with a spatula if needed.
  11. Bake for about 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean with just a few crumbs.

Apple Cake with Boiled Cider Glaze

If gingerbread and apple pie merged to form a more perfect union, they would have created this Apple Cake. This moist cake is bursting with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and full of chunky, tender apples.  The Boiled Cider Glaze adds even more depth to the rich apple flavor.  The cake and glaze are easy to throw together and are a great way to make use of those bushels of apples from you recent apple picking adventure (and it doesn’t matter if it occurred in the grocery store or at an orchard).

Apple Cake- KAF2

Apple Cake with Boiled Cider Glaze

(from King Arthur Flour – cake and glaze)
Makes one 9x13inch pan of cake and 1 cup of boiled cider glaze
My notes are in [   ].

Ingredients

Cake

2 1/3 cups (9 3/4 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons King Arthur Flour Cake Enhancer (optional)
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups (11 5/8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups (15 ounces) peeled, cored, chopped apple, about 1 1/3 pounds whole apples
1 cup (4 ounces) diced toasted walnuts or pecans (optional) [I omitted the nuts]

Boiled Cider Glaze

2 1/2 tablespoons (1 3/4 ounces) boiled cider
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons (1 to 1 1/4 ounces) heavy cream
2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners’ sugar or glazing sugar
generous pinch of salt

Directions

[I rewrote the directions for making the cake as the original recipe did not provide a lot of detail.]

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  2. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cake enhancer (if using).  Set the bowl aside.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until lightened in color and well combined.
  4. Add the eggs, one at at time, to the butter-sugar mixture, making sure to incorporate each one before adding the next one.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and beat until well combined; the mixture may seem very stiff, and may even be crumbly.
  6. Add the apples and nuts (if using), and mix until the apples release some of their juice and the stiff mixture becomes a thick batter, somewhere between cookie dough and brownie batter in consistency.
  7. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing it with your wet fingers.
  8. Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few wet crumbs clinging to it.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool completely; don’t remove the cake from the pan.

Boiled Cider Glaze

  1. Stir all of the ingredients together, using the lesser amount of cream.
  2. Add additional sugar or cream if needed to make the glaze the consistency of molasses.
  3. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and spread.

Dulce de Leche Shortbread Bars

Look at this chocolate.  It’s as smooth as glass.   And if you were sitting on your surfboard in the middle of this calm chocolate ocean, you won’t even be bummed that there wasn’t a wave in sight because you could dip your finger down past the dark chocolate into the sticky, cinnamon-infused dulce de leche sitting below, eventually stopping at the crispy, crumbly cinnamon-coconut shortbread crust.  You can’t get more stoked than that.
Salted Dulce de Leche Shortbread Bars- Penzeys2
All the delicious layers.
Salted Dulce de Leche Shortbread Bars- Penzeys3

Dulce de Leche Shortbread Bars

(Adapted from Penzey’s)
Makes approximately 24 bars
My notes are in [  ].

Ingredients

Shortbread Base

1 cup pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Dulce de Leche

1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons Lyle’s golden syrup (available by the sweeteners) [I didn’t have Lyle’s so I used Steen’s Blended Syrup Southern Made]
1 tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Chocolate Topping

16 oz. dark chocolate [I used Trader Joe’s 72% 1lb dark chocolate bar.]
1 teaspoon butter
1-2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Directions

Shortbread Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 360°F.
  2. Line a 9×14 inch pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour mixture, brown sugar, coconut, butter, and cinnamon. Mix well on low.
  5. Press the dough into the baking pan so that it’s about 1/4-inch thick.
  6. Bake at 360° for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool a bit.

Dulce de Leche

  1. Combine the milk, golden syrup, and butter in a small heavy saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, making sure to stir constantly.  At one point, the mixture may start to get lumpy (like ricotta cheese), but just keep stirring and it will smooth out.  Cook until big bubbles form and the mix is thickened and a light caramel color, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Take the dulce de leche off of the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Whisk in the cinnamon.
  4. Pour the dulce de leche over the shortbread base and gently spread it.
  5. Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool.

Chocolate Topping

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter using a double boiler or in a glass bowl placed over a pot of boiling water. Stir until melted.
  2. Pour and spread the chocolate over the cooled caramel.
  3. Sprinkle with the sea salt. [I forgot to sprinkle the sea salt on my bars, but next time I’ll make sure to do so.]
  4. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set, about 2 hours.
  5. Let the cold bars site at room temperature for about five minutes, and then cut into bars [if you cut the bars right out of the fridge when they’re too cold, the chocolate may crack or separate from the dulce de leche].  Cut and serve or refrigerate the cut pieces in an airtight container.

Banana Pecan Buttermilk Muffins

People warned me that when I moved to “the Valley” from downtown LA, the weather would be much warmer, but I was not quite prepared for just how quickly my bananas would ripen in the heat.  Until I better calibrate my banana eating to the speed of banana ripening, I’ll be baking up all sorts of banana related goods.  These Banana Pecan Buttermilk Muffins are super tender and have an airy snack cake-like texture while the brown sugar pecan topping provides a crunchy contrast. On the day that they’re baked, the muffins have a mild banana flavor which intensifies overnight.
Banana Pecan Buttermilk Muffins- Penzeys2

Banana Pecan Buttermilk Muffins

(Adapted from Penzey’s)
Makes 16 muffins

Ingredients

Muffin

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe banana (2 large)
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Topping

3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 teaspoons of granulated white sugar

Directions

Muffins

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.  You’ll only need 16 paper liners.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and set the bowl aside.
  4. In a separate large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter-sugar mixture, beating well after each addition.
  6. Beat in the banana and vanilla.
  7. Mix in the buttermilk.
  8. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, starting off by mixing at low speed.  Mix until just combined (don’t over mix).
  9. Spoon/scoop the batter into the muffin liners (or grease and flour the muffin tins if you’re not using liners).

Topping

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients (cinnamon, brown sugar, white sugar, and pecans) and sprinkle on the muffin tops before baking.
  2. Bake the muffins at 350° for 18-20 minutes.

Apple Cider Caramels

It’s fall, and everyone seems to be losing their minds over pumpkin spice.  But in my little corner of sweets, I’m all about the apples, and nothing captures the apple spirit better than these Apple Cider Caramels.  They’re a cross between a caramel apple and an apple pie.  Boiled cider makes these caramels extra apple-y and is worth the investment.  Note, in the past I’ve tried boiling down some apple cider to make boiled cider, but it turned into a big gooey, sticky mess, so now I just stick with purchasing my boiled cider.

Apple Cider Caramels - KAF 1

Apple Cider Caramels

(from King Arthur Flour)
Makes about 64 caramels
My comments are in [  ] below.

Ingredients

2 cups (1 pint, 16 ounces) heavy cream or whipping cream
1 cup (11 ounces) light corn syrup
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, unsalted
1/2 cup (6 ounces) boiled cider
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice

Directions

  1. Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on opposite sides.  [I prefer to use a 9″x13″ quarter sheet pan.]
  2. Combine the cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and boiled cider in a heavy-bottom, deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to medium-high heat and cook until the mixture reaches 248°F on a candy thermometer, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your particular stove.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the salt and spice.
  4. Pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan. Let it stand for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature before cutting into 1″ squares. [I refrigerate the caramels to speed up the firming process.  Then I let the caramels stand at room temperature for a few minutes before cutting into squares.]
  5. To wrap the caramels, use 6″ squares of parchment paper. Place one caramel in the center of each square; wrap the opposite edges of the paper around the caramel and twist the exposed edges to close. [I prefer cellophane wrappers from Caramel Wrappers.]

Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free)

For years, my skepticism that gluten-free flours could produce the “right” baked goods texture made me highly resistant to experimenting with gluten-free baking.  But during a recent trip the to the Williams Sonoma outlet, a bag of Cup4Cup, a gluten-free flour developed by a chef, finally made its way into my shopping basket.  My first experiment was with Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars, and what a perfect recipe to start off my foray into gluten-free baking.  The cookie bars were soft but not crumbly or dry, and the Nutella made these even more over the top delicious.  I can already hear the much rejoicing among my gluten-free friends.

Cup4Cup gluten-free flour is pretty amazing.  It’s the only gluten-free flour I’ve tried so far, but I still think it’s amazing.
Nutella Sugar Cookie Bar-C4C5

The Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars don’t look too impressive from above, but…
Nutella Sugar Cookie Bar-C4C2

…the side view reveals all the delicious layers.  Nutella Sugar Cookie Bar-C4C3

Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free)

(from Cup4Cup)
Makes one 9″x9″ pan

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups Cup4Cup flour
½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup Nutella

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a non-stick 9” x 9” pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl mix together the Cup4Cup flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar.
  3. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix on medium speed until combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture, and mix on low until a dough is formed.
  6. Place half of the dough into the bottom the baking dish, and use your fingers to spread it out into an even layer.
  7. Spread the Nutella evenly over the top.
  8. Take the remaining dough and scoop it by the tablespoon to cover most of the Nutella. Spaces of Nutella between the dough are ok.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes until baked through and light golden brown.
  10. Cool to room temperature, cut into squares and serve.

Chocolate Almond Muffins

During the past three weeks, I’ve been living in a thick fog of preparing to move, moving, and unpacking.  In the midst of it all, I’ve been eagerly eyeing my new stove/oven, reading the thick manual (it’s so fancy that it has a Sabbath mode), and researching recipes to try.  I used an electric stove/oven for the past four years, so there will be a bit of a learning curve as I get used to my new high powered gas oven.  Luckily I’ve found some recipes that are very forgiving and taste fantastic, even if things are slightly overbaked.  These Chocolate Almond Muffins were the first recipe I tried in the new oven.  I was especially drawn to the recipe because of the use of copious amounts of almond paste and the promise of deep, dark chocolate.   I was not disappointed as the muffins were delicious with a tender, delicate texture and a floral almond flavor that was well balanced by the deep chocolate.  Because the muffins aren’t too sweet, they’d be perfect for breakfast too.  The one caveat is that the list of ingredients can be a bit daunting for baking pantries that aren’t well stocked.  Some “specialty” ingredients that I had to add to my pantry for this recipe were a large tub of almond paste (the tube won’t be enough), brown rice flour, and black cocoa.

As you can see below, the muffin tops don’t rise very much, but they spread out to create slightly crispy, crackly edges.
Chocolate almond muffins- huckleberry2

Chocolate Almond Muffins

(from Huckleberry: Stories, Secretes, and Recipes from Our Kitchen)
Makes 16 muffins
My notes are in [  ] below.

Ingredients

3/4 cup (200 g) almond paste
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup (30 g) Dutch process cocoa powder [I wanted to really amp up the chocolate flavor so I used 20g regular Dutch process cocoa powder and 10g Black cocoa]
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (240 g) unsalted, cubed butter, at room temperature
6 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (130 g) all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons brown rice flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups (260 g) coarsely chopped dark chocolate, 60-70% cacao
Powdered sugar for topping (optional)

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350°F/180°C.
  2. Line two 12-cup muffin pants with 16 paper liners, spacing them evenly between the two pants.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste, granulated sugar, salt, and cocoa powder on medium speed until the mixture looks and feels sandy.  Be sure all the almond paste is broken up into a fine meal with no clumps. [Making sure the almond paste is not lumpy is really important, otherwise your muffins will bake up with with lumps of almond paste that will leave your tasters wondering, “what is that?” in a bad way].
  4. Add the butter and beat for 1 to 2 minutes on medium.
  5. Incorporate the eggs, two at a time, beating well after each addition. [After mixing in the eggs, I also scraped down the bowl.]
  6. Add the vanilla, then pause mixing.
  7. Add both flours, the baking powder, and chopped chocolate.
  8. Mix on low speed, just until incorporate; then fold by hand to be sure it’s properly, but gently, incorporated.
  9. Fill the muffin cups with batter, all the way to the top, then bake (the muffins to do not rise much).  If both pans won’t fit on the center rack, just bake in batches until the muffins just barely spring back when pressed, 20 to 22 minutes.
  10. [Use skewers to loosen the edges of the muffin tops from the pan.]  Allow to cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar.