A cold and dreary Sunday is best spent baking, surrounded by the warmth of cinnamon and sugar and icing. These miniature apple cakes use fresh ginger instead of ground, balanced by the creamy icing.

Ingredients

2 apples, diced
3 tablespoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 egg, beaten
8 oz plain full fat or 2% greek yogurt
1 cup unbleached organic flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons of heavy cream

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place 8 mini loaf pans or paper liners on a cookie sheet.

Chop the apple into small pieces and then toss it with the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Set it aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter with the molasses and brown sugar over low heat. While that’s coming together, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Whisk the butter and sugar and molasses until they are smooth. Stir in the minced ginger. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool a little bit. Then stir in the yogurt.

Combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients. Fold the apples into the batter.

Fill the loaf pans 3/4 full with batter. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

Let the cakes cool completely before decorating with icing. To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar and cream with a form or whisk until you achieve the consistency you want.

How They Turned Out

Very moist and flavorful, with a bit of a kick from the ginger and cinnamon.

Apple Cake

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What do you make for your fabulous vegan friend for dinner?  These easy peasy stuffed squashes.

Ingredients

2 medium or 3 small acorn squashes, halved
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup diced onion
2 cups organic kale, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
zest and juice of one orange
2 packages microwaveable Ancient Grains quinoa with chickpeas

How I Made Them

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with non-stick foil.  Brush the squash halves with olive oil and place face down. Roast for 30 minutes.

While the squash roasts, saute the garlic and onion in olive oil in a large skillet. Add the kale and cook until just wilted. Cook the quinoa in the microwave, then add it to the pan. Stir in the cranberries, orange juice and zest.

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After the 30 minutes, take the squash from the oven. Use tongs to turn them over. Brush the flesh with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fill the cavities with the quinoa stuffing.  Put them back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

How They Turned Out

So, so yummy. I don’t even like squash and I scraped my clean.

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68DE1EFD-7C0A-435C-B749-891B7D4D2DCA.jpegI’m not one for food fads. I avoided the avocado toast frenzy and refuse to fuse my food. Though given the chance to try molecular gastronomy, my inner science nerd totally would.

So when everyone started raving about the fancy cheese plate, I stuck to my brie in pastry and carried on. Until this Thanksgiving.

This year, I hosted Thanksgiving unexpectedly so it was only the tried and true family favorites. To fancy it up, I succumbed to the cheese plate. And now I’m a convert!

Wensleydale cheese with cranberries, a black truffle goat cheese, cheddar with mustard ale, havarti, prosciutto, two kinds of salami, olives, hummus, fig preserves, apples, and assorted crackers. Simple to make and gorgeous on the table (but kind of spendy).

 

 

It’s cruel, how an awful cold makes you crave homemade comfort food and drink but leaves you no energy to step foot in the kitchen. This take on a hot toddy requires very little effort, beyond shuffling and snuffling to the Keurig machine. (A tea pot can be used instead, if you have instant apple cider.)

Put a vanilla chai tea bag in your favorite cup. Brew an apple cider pod into your cup on the demitasse (4 oz) setting. Remove the pod and run another demitasse of just hot water.  You can add a little rum for medicinal purposes.

Tea and sympathy, easy as catching a cold.

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Apple Cider Chai

While most of the country is enjoying the last days of summer, fall has blown into Southeast Alaska with buckets of rain and wind. After a damp afternoon, what you need is something comforting with a bit of spice.

Ingredients

3 sticks of unsalted butter
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
2 cups sugar
4 large brown eggs
3/4 tbs vanilla
1 29oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1 block of cream cheese
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup milk or half and half
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbs orange zest
maple syrup to taste

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare 10 mini-loaf pans by rubbing them with coconut oil, or line 12 jumbo muffin tins with double liners.

Cream the butter and sugars together in a standing mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing them each in before adding the next. Mix in the pumpkin in large spoonsful (don’t just dump it in).  It will look mottled but that’s okay.  Add the vanilla.

Turn the mixer down to a low speed and add the dry mixture in small batches.  Combine the ingredients until you have a thick smooth batter.

Spoon the batter into the loaf pans/muffin tins. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a cake tester comes away clean.  Let the loaves/muffins cool completely.

Combine the cream cheese, milk, and orange zest in a standing mixer fitted with a whisk. Add the confectioner’s sugar in small batches so it doesn’t POOF and make a mess.  Add a little maple syrup for flavor. This is icing, not frosting so it will go on soft and a little drippy, but stays where you put it.

How They Turned Out

The perfect falltime treat, great for breakfast or dessert. They turned out moist with a good crumb. The maple orange icing is a lovely combination with the spicy pumpkin cake.

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It’s National Doughnut Day!!  Woo hoo!!  To celebrate, I made these healthy apple cinnamon mini donuts.  They are whole wheat and sugar free (unless you glaze them).

Ingredients

1 apple, peeled and diced
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs plus 1/2 cup Pyure organic stevia blend
2 tbs butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup organic unfiltered apple juice
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
coconut oil for greasing the doughnut pan

How I Made Them

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the mini doughnut pan by greasing it with coconut oil.

Combine the diced apple with cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of the stevia in a small bowl, stirring to coat all the apple pieces, and set it aside. In a large bowl, mix the flour, 1/2 cup of stevia, baking powder, nutmeg, and ginger (a fork works best). Add the apple juice, egg, and melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined.  Fold in the apple mixture.  You’ll have a thick, slightly sticky batter.

Mini donut before (2)

Fill the mini doughnut pan with the batter.  Bake the doughnuts for 18 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

How They Turned Out

Yummy and guilt free!  They aren’t super sweet like the usual doughnut, but are still very tasty. You can serve them warm, or wait a bit and glaze them (in which case they aren’t sugar free anymore).

Mini donut after (2)

 

When life gives you a big bag of lemons from Costco, you make lemon cake before they all spoil.

Ingredients

6 lemons, zested and juiced
6 eggs
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups unbleached flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
lemon extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup Dickinson’s Lemon Curd

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cake pans by rubbing with solid coconut oil (like you would with butter) and/or line the muffin tins with paper liners.

This recipe makes four 8 inch layer cakes or 3 dozen cupcakes or a combination of both.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and soda, salt) together in a large bowl. Combine the eggs, oil, and lemon juice in the bowl of a standing mixer. Use a whisk and do this by hand — if you use the mixer it’s very sloshy and messy.

Put the bowl in the mixer, with the paddle attachment.  Add the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the yogurt, mixing at medium-low speed. Once combined, you can turn up the speed to add a little air to the batter so it’s less dense. Just be careful not to overwork the batter.

Fill the cake pans/muffin tins three quarters full.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs.  Let the cakes cool completely.

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To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter (both at room temperature) together until smooth.  Add all the lemon zest plus a few drops of the lemon extract. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar in batches, remembering to turn down the speed of the mixer so you don’t have a giant POOF of sugar.  Continue until you have lots of smooth, fluffy frosting.

To assemble the cake, put one layer upside down on a cake plate. Spread the lemon curd over the top.  It helps if you work the lemon curd with a spatula in a bowl before spreading it on the cake.  Put the second layer on top, right side up.  Using a frosting spatula or other thin, flexible knife, frost the cake.  Decorate with something festive (I used Mike and Ikes). Because of the lemon zest, this frosting is not great in a piping bag (the zest gets stuck in the decorator tip).

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How It Turned Out

I was nervous about the olive oil (I mean, it goes with lemons but does it go with cake?). And the yogurt was because I had no sour cream. Even so. . .

This would win the Great British Bake Off!  The cake is the perfect consistency, neither too dense nor too light.  The taste is a lovely burst of lemon without being too sour or too citrusy.  And I love how the zest shows through in the frosting.