Butter Crumb Coffee Cake with Vanilla Drizzle

coffeecake2

A steaming hot cup of tea and a warm slice of coffee cake are the perfect snack on a chilly fall afternoon. This delicious recipe comes right from a wonderful cookbook that I own entitled, Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More: 200 Anytime Treats and Special Sweets for Morning to Midnight  by Carole Walter. It’s chock full of amazing recipes for all kinds of sweetly baked treats. Her recipe calls for a dusting of confectioners sugar on top of the finished cake but I decided to go for a vanilla drizzle instead because in all honesty, everything is just a little better with some icing!

I followed the recipe as written but like I so often do, I increased the amount of vanilla and I used vanilla paste instead so I got that nice flecking throughout the cake. I also added a light sprinkle of ground cinnamon to the batter for a little extra flavor and warmth. The highlight of any good crumb cake is the crumbs and these don’t disappoint. If you like a really thick layer of crumbs don’t hesitate to make and add more to the top. The crumbs are super easy to make and they are something that you can make ahead of time, freeze and just grab a few chunks whenever you need them. They are also delicious added to the top of a vanilla or pound cake, muffins or even pancakes! Throw some warm cinnamon apples on those pancakes as well and you have yourself an Apple Strudel pancake breakfast. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the streusel

  • 2/3 cup ( 10 2/3 tbs) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

For the cake

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the vanilla drizzle

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 to 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
  • 6 to 7 tsp half-n-half

Instructions

For the streusel – Place the butter in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan and heat over medium heat until almost melted. Remove from the heat and cool to tepid.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nuts. Add to the butter and stir with a fork until blended and mixture begins to form crumbs. Gently squeeze the mixture with hands to form larger clumps and then break apart into smaller crumbs. Let the streusel sit for 10-15 minutes before using.

For the cake – Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Generously butter a 10″ springform pan, line the bottom with parchment and butter that as well. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, thoroughly whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the room temperature butter and work with your fingertips until fine crumbs are formed, the mixture should look “sandy”.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the liquid. Gradually push the crumbs into the liquid beginning with the crumbs in the center of the bowl. Beat on low for about a minute or until the batter is smooth. Take note, the batter will be very thick.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Take a handful of the streusel crumbs and squeeze them to form a large clump, break the clump apart and sprinkle all over the top of the batter. Repeat until all of the streusel has been used. Lightly press the streusel into the batter.

Set the pan on a 12″ strip of aluminum foil and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch. A toothpick inserted should come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and let stand on a cooling rack for 25 minutes. Gently run a knife around the edge to help release the cake the remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Place a piece of aluminum foil directly over the top of the cake cupping it around the side to hold the crumbs in place. Cover with a cooling rack and gently invert the cake. Lift the bottom of the pan off and remove the parchment paper. Cover with another cooking rack and invert one last time. Remove the aluminum foil allow the cake to cool completely right side up.

For the vanilla drizzle – Combine all of the ingredient and stir until well combined. If the drizzle is a little too thick, add a touch more half-n-half.

To finish the cake – Using a spoon or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off, drizzle the cooled cake with the icing. Allow to set for a few minutes and then serve.

Brown Butter Sugar Cookie Peach Cobbler

peach cobbler

What is better than crunchy, buttery sugar cookies and warm spiced fruit? How about when you put those two things together to make a delicious cobbler! This super simple dessert is made mostly from ingredients that you have around the house in addition to a pouch of sugar cookie mix and frozen fruit, which is always good to keep stocked in the freezer. This is such an easy and delicious dessert to make when last minute company shows up, they will think you were baking for hours when in reality this recipe takes just a few minutes to pull together. Be sure not to skip browning the butter, it takes just a few minutes but will impart layers of warm, nutty flavor to the cookie topping.

The recipe was adapted from the site, tablespoon.com and you can find the original recipe right here . Although the recipe calls for peaches, you can easily substitute in any fruit that you desire. With fall upon us, warm cinnamon apples would make for a perfect cozy, cool weather dessert but berries, nectarines or even pears would also make for a yummy dish as well. Cinnamon is called for however, apple pie spice, baking spice, nutmeg or any other warm, fall spice would be equally delicious too. Experiment with the fruit and spices until you find something that you love. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the fruit base

  • 2 12 oz. bags of frozen sliced peaches, thawed
  • 2 tbs granulated sugar
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbs fresh lemon juice, about 1 medium-sized lemon
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the cookie topping

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker™ sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1tbs coarse sparkling sugar

Instructions

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray a 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. Scatter peach slices evenly in pan. Sprinkle granulated sugar, cornstarch, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and the lemon juice evenly over top, stir to combine. Top evenly with 3 tablespoons cubed butter.
In a small saucepan, heat the 1/2 cup butter over medium heat and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown, stir frequently. Pour into large bowl. Add to the bowl the cookie mix, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the egg and stir until a soft dough forms. Spoon the dough evenly over the top of the peach mixture. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cookies are golden brown and edges of fruit filling are bubbly. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
**Tip – This dessert is best served warm and topped with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream**

 

Chef Emerson’s Almond Vanilla Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Em cake 5

If there is one thing my daughter loves to do it is bake and now that she’s getting older, she is almost 10 now, she really loves to work independently on her kitchen creations. I try to give her as much space as she needs during her time in the kitchen assisting only as needed with measuring and baking tips. Don’t be afraid to hand over the reins to your little baker, the only way for them to learn and grow in the kitchen is for them to do the work on their own.

This recipe was adapted from one of my daughter’s favorite cookbooks, The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook: Sweet Treats for the Geek in All of Us by Rosanna Pansino who also happens to have a really great YouTube® baking channel. It’s a simple to follow recipe so it is great for kids to try on their own. The original recipe is for a lightly lemon flavored pound cake however, my daughter Emerson isn’t fond of lemon so she decided to change-up the flavor profile. She eliminated the lemon zest and instead used a little less vanilla extract while adding in some almond extract. Then she decided to incorporate some mini chocolate chips as well because in her world, everything is better with chocolate! If you wish to make the original recipe simply use 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of finely grated lemon zest instead of the chocolate chips and extracts combination.

One small tip to ensure that you chocolate chips are evenly dispersed throughout the cake, lightly dust them in flour before adding them to the batter. Chocolate chips have a tendency to sink to the bottom of batter however, a light dusting of flour will help to suspend them nicely throughout the finished cake. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease a bundt ban with cooking spray and lightly dust with flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Place the mini chocolate chips in a small bowl and very lightly dust them with flour. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until softened. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.

On low-speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the mini chocolate chips and mix until just incorporated.

mixer pic

Pour the batter evenly into prepared bundt pan. Tap the bottom of the pan on the work surface to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. If needed, loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a small butter knife. Carefully turn the cake out of the pan into a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Lightly dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Em Cake 3.jpg

**Tip – To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, gently place them into a bowl of hot tap water and allow them to sit for a few minutes.**

Toasted Marshmallow S’mores Cake

Toasted Marshmallow Cake

If you love S’mores than this is your cake! It’s a rich dark chocolate cake filled with crushed graham crackers and marshmallow meringue frosting and then covered in even more marshmallow meringue frosting and browned until nice and toasty. It was OUT OF THIS WORLD! I made this for my son’s 5th birthday the other day and it was a huge hit! My birthday boy and all of the guests loved it and the best part? It might look fancy but it is super easy to make.

I started with the recipe for my Dark Chocolate Cake which is both easy and foolproof.  The Marshmallow Meringue Frosting was taken from the cookbook,Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats which you can pick up on Amazon if interested. The frosting is also super easy to make but make sure your cakes are cooled and ready to go as you should frost them right after making the frosting. The frosting will be glossy and fluffy like melted marshmallows and although it will be sticky, it will go on the cake nicely as long as you move quickly. After toasting, it will take on a nice, slightly dry outer coating which is simply delicious.

You can toast the marshmallow meringue frosting one of two ways, either in the oven or with a basic kitchen torch. I happen to have a kitchen torch however, as luck would have it I was out of butane the day I made this. So I did what any good cook does when faced with a challenge in the kitchen, I improvised! First I toasted the cake in the oven at 375ºF for about 4 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on the cake as it can toast quickly and you don’t want it to burn. Then, using an Aim n’ Flame®, I toasted the outside edges. It took longer than using a kitchen torch and it didn’t toast quite as evenly but it still gave me the desired result and the frosting came out browned and toasty.

Finish off the cake by spreading a little extra marshmallow frosting on top and covering with crushed graham crackers and broken up Hershey® bar pieces. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 cup (8 oz) brewed coffee, cold
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp white vinegar

For the marshmallow meringue frosting

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs light corn syrup
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • large pinch of Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the assembled cake

  • 1 sleeve of graham cracker, crushed
  • 1 large Hershey® bar, broken into pieces

Instructions

For the cake – Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour two 9″ round baking pans. Place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan for even easier release.

Combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add all of the wet ingredients. Mix until smooth, batter will be very thin. Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes then loosen the cake from the pan and turn out onto the wire rack. Cool completely.

For the marshmallow frosting – In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg whites, corn syrup, sugar and salt. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk the mixture as it heats and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high-speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and mix until just incorporated. Frost cake immediately.

To assemble the cake – Cover the bottom layer of cake with a thick coating of the marshmallow meringue frosting. Cover with half of the crushed graham crackers. Place the second layer on top and completely frost the cake. To toast the frosting, either place the cake in a 375ºF oven for 4 minutes OR use a kitchen torch. Once the frosting is toasted and dry to the touch, add some more of the marshmallow meringue frosting on top and cover with the remaining crushed graham crackers and broken pieces of Hershey® bar.

Sugar Cookie Strawberry Cake

strawberry cake

This is a fresh and flavorful cake that is perfect for birthday parties or spring/summer holidays such as Easter. The original recipe is from a fabulous book entitled, Cakes by Melissa: Life Is What You Bake It by Melissa Ben-Ishay, which is filled with great recipes for cakes, frostings, fillings, and toppings! I decided to combine this strawberry cake with her scrumptious recipe for sugar cookie dough which is perfect for nibbling since it contains no eggs. I could eat this sugar cookie dough ALL DAY LONG! The recipe makes a lot of sugar cookie dough, more than you need for this recipe, so you can either halve the recipe or tightly wrap the leftovers and freeze for later use.

The wonderful thing about this cake is that you don’t have to make it strawberry flavored, the recipe calls for a homemade fruit puree for the flavoring so you can feel free to play around and experiment with whatever fruit you like best! Try mixed berries, pineapple, peaches, or even mango! The possibilities for this cake are seemingly endless. For the frosting, I used a swiss buttercream since it tints well and isn’t overly sweet.

One last note, before making your cake be sure to bring all of the refrigerated ingredients to room temperature. Cold ingredients don’t blend as well and subsequently won’t form a proper emulsion. It’s tempting to overlook this step but please don’t as it’s really quite necessary in order to create a fluffy, light baked good. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 3/4 cups strawberry puree*
  • sanding sugar, for decoration

For the sugar cookie dough

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease two 9″ round baking pans or line the pans with parchment paper and butter the paper.

With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 1 minute on high-speed, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the vanilla extract then add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl midway through.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and sea salt. In another bowl, stir together the milk and the strawberry puree.

With the mixer on low-speed, add half of the flour mixture. When it’s mostly incorporated add half of the milk mixture. Add the remainder of the dry and wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Stop mixing as soon as you have a smooth batter.

Divide the batter equally between the two pans and bake until the middle of the cake feels springy when you gently press with your finger, about 35-40 minutes.

While the cakes are baking, make the buttercream frosting and sugar cookie dough. To make the sugar cookie dough, using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter on high for about a minute. Add the vanilla and whip to just incorporate. Add the sugar and whip for another minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and salt and whip just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one last time.

Allow the cakes to completely cool on wire racks before icing and decorating. Frost the layer cake then break off small pieces of the sugar cookie dough and assemble them around the outside edge of the cake. Sprinkle lightly with sanding sugar. Extra sugar cookie dough can be wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator for use in other recipes.

*To make the strawberry puree – Clean and hull 3 1/2 cups (a little more than a pint) of fresh strawberries. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor, adding a little granulated sugar if the berries are a bit too tart.

Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

Dark Chocolate Caken

I absolutely adore this Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake! It is hands down one of the BEST chocolate cakes I’ve ever had, better than a bakery cake and blows away any box mix. The best part? It takes no more effort to make this cake then it does to whip up a boxed cake mix and it’s made with ingredients that everyone has on hand. All you do is combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, add all of the wet ingredients, mix and bake. How easy is that?

I generally like to make this cake as a bundt but it also works great for layer cakes and cupcakes too! Just be sure to adjust the cooking time as needed depending on the baking vessel you are using. You can frost the cake with traditional canned frostings or try using a delicious Swiss Meringue Buttercream . I also love to drizzle it generously with rich chocolate ganache and top it with a few mini chocolate chips. Feel free to be as creative as you like as it’s the perfect “base cake” for almost anything you can think up. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 cup (8 oz) brewed coffee, cold
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add all of the wet ingredients. Mix until smooth, batter will be very thin. Bake 35-40 min or until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes then loosen the cake from the pan and turn out onto the wire rack. Cool completely. Dust generously with powdered sugar.

Love the pan? Click the link below to order!

 Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Heritage Bundt Pan

Almond Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Almond Pound Cake2

I’ve struggled for years to find a pound cake recipe that results in a cake that has the right texture and level of moistness. Then I stumbled across this recipe in one my old cookbooks from Williams-Sonoma and I instantly fell in love. (“Williams-Sonoma Holiday Entertaining” – page 206 – “Almond Pound Cake with Cherry Glaze”) Because the cookbook is quite old you can’t find it new anymore however, if you’d like a copy for yourself you can click the image below to find some used copies available through various sellers on Amazon.

The original recipe calls for the pound cake to be served with a cherry glaze (see recipe below) which is absolutely delicious but this time around I decided to take the cake into a different direction. Instead of the cherry glaze I covered the pound cake in a chocolate ganache so that it took on a similar flavor to one of my favorites, rainbow cookies! Because I was bringing this cake to a late holiday get-together I used Christmas colored sprinkles to decorate but of course, feel free to use any color sprinkles that you have on hand.

What I like most about this cake is that there are various ways to make and serve it, all of which are equally yummy. If you want a lighter cake, try dusting it with some powdered sugar instead of the ganache or cherry glaze. If you prefer a more traditional pound cake flavor, you can easily replace the almond extract with pure vanilla extract. Also, don’t be afraid to try other flavored extracts as well, there are so many awesome ones to choose from such as brandy, hazelnut, and coconut! This is truly a great “base cake” that lends itself to so many other flavor options and presentations! Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (235 grams) sifted cake flour (sift the flour FIRST, then measure)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (315 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (500 grams) granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz.) buttermilk*
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract

*If you do not have buttermilk, make your own.  Measure out 1 cup of milk and add to it 2 tbs of vinegar or lemon juice.  Let stand 5-10 minutes and then it will be ready to use.  It will not be as thick as store bought buttermilk but it will work just the same in recipes.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a bundt pan and dust lightly with flour, shake out the excess.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat until creamy and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, one-third at a time, alternating with one-third of the buttermilk. Combine thoroughly after each addition. Lastly, beat in the almond extract.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan then gently tap the pan to release any air bubbles. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes depending on the size/shape of bundt pan.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes. Then, slip a knife between the cake and the pan to loosen any stuck edges and turn the cake out onto a wire rack. Cool completely. Drizzle with the chocolate ganache and cover in sprinkles.

To store, cover loosely and place in a cool, dry place. This cake can be made a day ahead of serving as well.

Cherry Glaze

  • 1 cup (125 grams) dried cherries
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz.) port wine
  • 2 tbs granulate sugar
  • 1 jar (8 oz.) cherry preserves

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the dried cherries, port wine and sugar and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the preserves, reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 6-7 minutes. Let cool slightly. Drizzle the cooled cake with the cherry glaze or serve on each individual slice. If making the glaze ahead of time, allow to cool completely, cover, and keep in the fridge. Reheat with 1-2 tbs of water.

Apple Brown Betty

apple betty3

Apple pie is the quintessential fall dessert. It evokes memories of jumping in the leaves, cuddling up in a cozy sweater, and stuffing your face at Thanksgiving dinner. Making a delicious homemade apple pie isn’t all that difficult but it can be a little time consuming Instead, when a craving for apple pie hits try making an Apple Brown Betty! It has all of the same delicious flavor as an apple pie minus the hassle.

An Apple Brown Betty is very similar to a crumble or crisp. It’s a traditional American dessert made from apples that are topped with delicious sweetened crumbs. It is unclear of the exact origin of this dessert however, it was first mentioned in a cookbook dating all the way back to 1864! Just like its apple pie counterpart, it pairs really well with a nice, cold scoop of vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

The recipe that I used came from one of my most favorite cookbooks, The New England Orchard Cookbook: Harvesting Dishes & Desserts from the Region’s Bounty . If you love farm fresh fruit such as apples, berries, and peaches this would be a fabulous addition to your cookbook library. It features information on local farms all around the New England region (CT, MA, RI, VT, and NH) as well as a bounty of wonderful and delicious recipes like Streusel Spiced Cider Muffins, Orchard Cake, Apple Stuffing and more!

For this recipe I made a few, very slight changes. In place of the maple syrup that was called for I used pure apple syrup, I prefer the flavor over maple. The instructions said to use cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg to taste but I instead tossed the apples with a cinnamon sugar blend and apple pie spice which is a mix of all the flavors that are called for. I also substituted Granny Smith apples for McIntosh. In general you can substitute one baking apple for another in most apple recipes. The top apples for baking are: Granny Smith, Jonagold, Braeburn, Cortland, and Honeycrisp.  

Ingredients

  • 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 maple syrup
  • Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 full sleeve of graham crackers
  • 1 stick (1/4 lb) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, combine the apples with the syrup and spices. Toss to coat. Place in a medium casserole dish and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the graham crackers, melted butter, and brown sugar. Using your hands, crumble up the crackers and mix everything together.

Pat the crumb mixture all over the top of the apples. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the apples up bubbling up through the topping and the crust is golden brown.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

**Tip** – You can also use a food processor to turn the graham crackers into crumbs.

apple betty2

 

Crazy Sprinkle Four Layer Rainbow Cake

Sprinkle Cake 1

My daughter loves sprinkles and all things rainbow so for her 9th birthday this week I decided to make her a very special rainbow cake. It was four layers of vibrant vanilla cake frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream  and then covered in an entire container of sprinkles. It was the perfect cake for my sweet little girl who is growing up way too fast, I could’ve sworn she was just born yesterday!!

For the four layers, I used the Wilton Easy Layers Cake Loaf Pan 4 Pc . These pans are great, they are small and shallow but when layered together they create an impressive cake. You can also get them in various shapes such as scalloped, square, and round. If you enjoy baking cakes they are worth adding to your pan collection.

For the vanilla cake I tried out Buddy Valastro’s (The Cake Boss) recipe that was featured on the “Rachael Ray” show. You can find the original recipe here . It was a fairly moist and flavorful cake and it paired nicely with the buttercream frosting that I made but I think if I used this recipe again I would like to enhance the vanilla flavor even further. I like a really deep, rich vanilla cake and I think this one came up a little short even after doubling the amount of vanilla that was called for in the recipe. In the end, the cake as a whole was excellent and everyone enjoyed it so I will check this recipe off as a success!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract OR vanilla paste
  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
  • Jar of rainbow sprinkles

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray each of the four layer pans with cooking spray and then place a sheet of parchment paper (cut to size) in the bottom of each one, spray again with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and eggs together until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add flour, milk, oil, baking powder, and vanilla and beat for another minute, just until the batter is smooth and creamy. Don’t overbeat. Pour batter into the prepared baking pans.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick poked into the center of the layer comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes then turn them out of the pan onto the rack. Cool completely before frosting.

On a rectangular dish or cake board, place the first layer of cake and frost with a thin layer of buttercream. Repeat until all of the layers are stacked. Then apply a thin crumb coat to the cake, place in the fridge for about 20 minutes to allow it to set. Frost the cake with the remainder of the buttercream and then coat the entire cake in sprinkles. Gently press in the sprinkles on the sides of the cake to ensure they stick. Store the cake in the fridge until serving time.

**Tip** – Be sure and adjust the cooking time as needed if using different sized pans.

Sprinkle Cake 2

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Swiss Mer Btrcrm

Admittedly, I usually dislike homemade frosting because so often it’s overly sweet thanks to the 4,000 cups of confectioners sugar many recipes call for. When I was baking my daughter’s birthday cake this year I decided it was the perfect time to try my hand at a Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting instead and I am so glad that I did. It was SO much better than any other homemade frosting I’ve ever made, it had a really nice, well-balanced flavor.

I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s website, you can find the original recipe here . It was very easy to make however, it takes a little more time than other types of frosting because you need to cook the egg whites and sugar. A good candy thermometer will come in handy for that step, if you don’t have one you’ll just have to pay very close attention to the egg and sugar mixture as it cooks so that the right consistency is achieved. The mixture will increase in volume as it cooks and when it’s ready it should be very shiny, smooth, and have the consistency of melted marshmallow. This process took about 20 minutes until the desired temperature (160ºF) and consistency was reached.

Also, although not required, a stand mixer really makes the whole job so much easier but if you don’t have a stand mixer, a handheld mixer will do just fine. The finished product has a pronounced almond flavor thanks to the added extract. If you prefer a more straight vanilla flavor simply substitute the almond extract that is called for in the recipe with additional vanilla extract.

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted Butter, room temperature and cut into tablespoons
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt

Place egg whites and sugar in the metal bowl of a stand mixer. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water, do not allow it to touch the water. Whisk or stir constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to approximately 160ºF. If attempting without a thermometer, sugar should be dissolved with no graininess when a bit is rubbed between two fingers. It will be hot to the touch.

Immediately place the bowl on the stand mixer and whip on high using the whisk attachment until frosting has become thick and glossy, forming a stiff peak. Continue to whip frosting until the bowl feels room temperature to the touch, a total of about 10 minutes.

Switch the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, drop in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. If frosting appears curdled or clumpy at any time, increase speed to medium-high and beat until smooth.

Once all of the butter has been incorporated, mix in extracts and pinch of salt. If needed, continue beating until smooth.

**Tip** – Sweets frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream may be stored on the counter for a few days or in the refrigerator. If storing in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature before serving.