Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mini Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

Munchkin pumpkin and Mini Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts.

Bite sized doughnuts, what? Maybe more like "two bites" sized, if we're adhering to accuracy here. Consider "bite sized" a challenge, if you will. On another tangent, yes, I did spend a considerable amount of time debating "doughnuts" vs "donuts". The Google-machine has informed me that the use of the spelling "doughnuts" predates "donuts", so that swayed me. Your baking trivia for the day!

And now, on to the more salient issue of how to make these little guys in your own home:

What you'll need:

  • 125g flour (any all purpose variety, GF blends included)
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (you can be a bit generous with this)
  • 25g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g pumpkin puree 

What to do:

Preheat oven to 170F/325C.

In a large bowl, combine the caster sugar, unsalted butter,vanilla extract, eggs, and buttermilk. I used a hand crank egg beater for this step, but if your electric handheld mixer has a very low setting, that would work too. It's just quite a liquid-y mixture at this stage, and anything high powered will send ingredients flying out of your mixing bowl and onto your wall. Don't ask me how I know this.

The next step is to add the pumpkin puree and keep mixing until it's delightfully orange.

Happy autumnal orange color!
In a small separate bowl, mix together the flour (I used a gluten free blend for these), baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and pinch of salt - you can simply use a fork to do so. Then gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing as you go.

Once the batter has a smooth texture, you can set it aside for a moment and lightly butter the mini doughnut tin. You can, of course, use a tin that makes larger doughnuts, just remember to increase the baking time if you do so!

If you have an pastry/piping/icing bag, it will come in handy for the next step, particularly if you are actually using a mini doughnut tin. You can fashion a makeshift pastry bag from a sandwich bag or by rolling parchment paper into a funnel. Scoop the batter (it should hold together well and feel fluffy and not at all runny) into your pastry bag and pipe the batter into the doughnut rings. Fill about 2/3s of the way up.

I have no photos of the piping process because I was alone in the kitchen and maybe had doughnut batter all over my hands from an overflow incident with my parchment piping "bag". Maybe.
Pop the mini doughnut tray into the preheated oven for about 8 minutes. The doughnuts will puff up quite a bit, and an inserted fork/toothpick should come out fairly clean when you test. After cooling for about two minutes, gently loosen the doughnuts from the tray with a spoon. If they come out with little resistance, excellent! They are ready to cool on a rack or plate for another couple of minutes before eating. DO eat this warm if at all possible.

Cooling in the doughnut pan...

About to be devoured!
See? I told you these doughnuts were tiny! They are also very light and fluffy, thanks to the buttermilk. And they have an orange vegetable as the main ingredient, so you they can feel slightly superior to other fried, non-veggie containing doughnuts out there. Not that they would be smug about it.

 Doughnuts, anyone?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Maple Pecan Swirls

These are excellent dunking cookies. So much so that they really fall into, at least as I see it, the English biscuit category. They have almost a shortbread cookie consistency. They do take a bit of time, but mostly because the dough needs to be chilled for at least 6 hours (or overnight) in order to preserve the structural integrity of the pecan swirls. Fancy, right?

What you'll need for the cookie dough (makes 2 dozen cookies):

  • 330g flour (GF blend or any all-purpose flour)
  • 120ml maple syrup
  • 120g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 20g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

What you'll need for the filling:

  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g chopped pecans
  • 50g light brown sugar

What to do:

Blend the maple syrup, butter, 20g light brown sugar, vanilla, and egg together in a mixing bowl with a handheld mixer. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.

Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, and continue to use the handheld mixer as you do so. The finished cookie dough will be quite thick - very like what you would expect for sugar cookies. Once the dough has been blended thoroughly, you should be able to shape one large dough ball out of it.

Next comes the fun rolling pin part. Lightly flour a working surface and roll the dough ball into a rectangular shape. You may want to split the ball in two and do this twice.

In a small bowl, mix together the filling ingredients - the pecans, 50g light brown sugar, and the remaining ground cinnamon and ginger. Then evenly spread this filling mixture onto the dough rectangle, leaving a bit of space free at the edges, as you can see below:

Lightly pat the pecan filling mixture down on the dough, to help it stay in place. Then very slowly and carefully begin rolling the dough onto itself - as you would when making cinnamon rolls. Start from the longer side of the rectangle.

Once you have rolled the dough into a log shape, pinch the ends together a bit so no filling leaks out, then wrap the dough log in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

When the dough is finished with its refrigeration process, slice approximately 1 centimeter wide from the dough log using a sharp knife. Evenly space the cookies slices on a baking tray (I used parchment paper, but that's not necessary if you're working with a non-stick cookie sheet.). 

Allow your oven to 180C/350F, then bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool for about 5 minutes once out of the oven.  These are not super sweet cookies, but have more of a gentle maple-y sweetness that I think is well suited to a nice afternoon treat. These Maple Pecan Swirls are also excellent edible companions for your next cup of tea, hot cocoa, or coffee.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

The season of the Great Pumpkin is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with cake? Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake to be exact. No, there is no coffee in this cake. Rather, it is to be enjoyed with coffee. Or tea. Or hot apple cider. With the beverage of your choice, basically. Or, heck, even ice cream if you want to go wild.

What you'll need for the cake:

  • 120g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 75g dark brown sugar
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 300g flour (I used a GF blend)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 225g pumpkin puree
  • 170ml buttermilk
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

What you'll need for the filling:

  • 120g dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

What you'll need for the streusel topping:

  • 85g brown sugar
  • 80g flour
  • 40g pecans
  • 60g unsalted butter (melted)

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.

We'll start with the cake batter.  In a large mixing bowl blend together the room temperature butter, the caster sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. I recommend using a handheld electric mixer, but you can get fancier if you'd like!

Once the butter and sugar are thoroughly creamed, add the eggs, buttermilk, and pumpkin puree.


In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Then gradually add this dry mixture to the wet mixture.

Once combined, pour (or spoon/spatula! - this is a pretty thick batter!) half of the cake batter into a buttered cake tin. 

Mix the filling ingredients - the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice - together and sprinkle over this first cake batter layer, covering thoroughly. Then spatula the remaining cake batter over the filling layer, smoothing the top down when finished.

Finally, mix together the topping ingredients - brown sugar, flour, chopped pecans, and melted butter. You can do this with a fork or by hand, until the topping mixture starts to clump together.

Finally, spoon the topping mixture onto the top layer of cake batter, and lightly pat it down to ensure even covering.

Tiny cake waiting to go in the oven...

Big cake all ready for the oven...

Yes, I made two cakes here. A normal sized cake and a mini cake. This recipe will make one large (20cm/8in tin) cake. If possible, use a springform cake tin so that you can see the pretty sides of the finished product!

Once the topping is all set, pop the cake into the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes. When it's finished, an inserted fork or toothpick should come out clean and the topping should be a nice golden brown color.

Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before removing the side of the springform tin, and another few minutes before slicing, if you at all value cake slices that hold their shape!

Eat warm and enjoy with coffee; pumpkin decoration optional!

Or have a slice with your morning coffee the next day - it's full of pumpkin, which is a vegetable, so it's almost good for you, right? Sounds like (cake) logic to me!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Good morning! I feel like it's been forever since I've shared a recipe, so to get back in the swing of things, I present a quick and easy Salted Caramel Apple Pie. It's just the thing to warm up a cool autumn afternoon.

What you'll need:

  • Pre-made pie crust - I used Jus Roll Light Puff Sheet. (I told you this was quick and easy! You're welcome to make your own pie crust if you have time though, you crafty bakers, you!)
  • 4-5 Bramley apples, or cooking apples of your choice
  • small bag of pretzels
  • sea salt
  • 1 397g can of Carnation Caramel

What to do:

Preheat your oven according to the directions of your pie crust.

I was super cheeky here and used a pie crust that had already been rolled out for me, so I simply draped the crust onto my pie pan and pressed it into place.

Next step is to press the pretzels into the pie crust - an idea completely inspired by Joy the Baker's Instagram feed, which is insanely delicious and to be checked out if you haven't all ready done so. Thank you Joy the Baker! 

Next time I make this, I'm doubling the number of pretzels and spacing them closer together.
Next you'll need to peel and finely slice your cooking apples, like so:

Then pour the caramel over the pretzel-y pie crust, and lightly sprinkle it with a pinch of sea salt.

 Arrange your thinly sliced apples in a spiral over the crust layer.

Then drizzle this first apple layer with caramel sauce and a pinch of sea salt, and lay down another spiraled layer of apple slice.

Finally, drizzle the remaining caramel over the top layer of apple slices, sprinkle with one more pinch of sea salt, and pop into the oven for 30-45 minutes, again taking into account the directions for the pie crust you use.

Let cool for at least five minutes before slicing. I ate this on its own (and a little more of it than I should have, if I'm being honest), but it would be really tasty warm and a la mode. What pie isn't, really?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Carrot Cranberry Bread

This is my first new recipe for the start of autumn this year - it's basically carrot cake's seasonally festive, slightly healthier cousin. I kept the added sugar fairly low here, letting the cranberries and carrots add the sweetness. I also used Greek yogurt instead of butter, which made for bread with a really nice and cakey consistency. Great with a morning coffee!

What you'll need:

  • 250g grated carrots (3-4 medium sized carrots)
  • 300g low fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 340g flour
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 170C/340F.

Spend an inordinate amount of time (not really...probably about 5 minutes, depending on your level of coordination) grating 3-4 carrots. Or rope someone into helping you. Unfortunately, no one else was there for me to Tom Sawyer into grating carrots. Seriously though people, is there a faster way of doing this? 

Hold a minor celebration when you are finished grating the carrots. Then, in a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, Greek yogurt, light brown sugar, and vanilla extract. I used a hand powered mixer for this step. Once everything is thoroughly mixed, fold in the grated carrots.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients - the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and just a pinch of salt. Once blended, gradually fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Make sure to smooth out any flour and/or sugar lumps.

Next, lightly grease a cake tin (I used a bundt tin, which baked nice and evenly) and pour the batter into it. Smooth down the top of the batter with a spatula, then pop into the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until an inserted fork comes out clean.

Let cool for about 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy the first slice while it's still warm!

If you find that you still have some bread left over after 2 days or so, it's also really nice toasted with a bit of cream cheese or honey spread on top.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy First Day of Autumn!

I am maybe a little bit too excited about the first day of autumn - even though it's kind of grey and overcast here - because autumn means that my baking habits can unashamedly veer towards all things pumpkin, cinnamon, and/or apple related. SO cosy.

Here are a few very tasty looking recipes I am looking forward to trying to kick off the season:

These overnight buttermilk cinnamon rolls from Averie Cooks

This recipe for at home pumpkin spice latte syrup over on A Beautiful Mess. I've been adding pumpkin pie spice to my morning coffee for about a week now, and am excited to try a fancier at home coffee treat!

These adorable apple pie cookies from Smitten Kitchen

And I think I may need a special occasion/party to try this recipe for salted caramel swirled pumpkin cheesecake bars (also from Averie Cooks). They look like they'd be dangerous otherwise...

Do you have any autumn baking favorites or recent delicious discoveries?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When Your Baking Experiment Crumbles...

Embrace it and actually make crumble from it!  I have done this with several batches of banana bread and the like in the past, but most recently I had a bit of a cinnamon roll fail. I am choosing to blame out-of-date yeast for their less than stellar texture outcome. Rather than letting the batch go to waste, I converted it to apple crumble!

What you'll need:

  • One batch of banana bread, cinnamon rolls, cake, etc that didn't quite turn out as hoped
  • 80-100g unsalted butter
  • 4 baking apples
  • 1 tbsp flour (of your choice)
  • raisins or sultanas to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

What to do:

First I crumbled the decidedly un-fluffy cinnamon rolls onto a cookie sheet and lightly toasted their crumbled remains in the oven.

Let the toasted pieces cool for 5-10 minutes before combining them with 80-100g unsalted butter (depending on how dry your original baking disaster was...). If the oven is not already heated to 170C/350F, then start to preheat it now. 

Next, knead the butter into the toasted crumbles until you have a firm cookie-dough-like consistency. Set aside for a moment.

For the apple filling, I followed a very similar recipe to what I did for my Almond Apple Berry Crumble. Roughly chop 3-4 cooking apples. Then mix the apple chunks and raisins (if desired) in a mixing bowl and toss lightly with 1 tablespoon of flour. If you'd like, also toss with 1 tsp ground cinnamon. I didn't do that with this batch, since I was already using the remains of cinnamon rolls!

Divide the apple filling evenly into the four ramekins, then press 1/4 of the dough mixture on top of the apple filling. The filled ramekins should look like this:

Pop into the oven for about 30 minutes, let cool for 5, and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Tried It: The Best Lemon Poppyseed Bread

Joanna over at A Cup of Joe was not kidding! This is some seriously good lemon poppyseed bread. I didn't even use lemon glaze, and I probably ate close to twenty percent of this cake while it was still warm. It's so light and fluffy that it made me think of this clip...

The original recipe for this delicious bread can be found at A Farmgirl's Dabbles (c/o A Cup of Joe). Below is my adapted version.

What you'll need:

  • 225g flour 
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 160ml buttermilk
  • 120ml oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp poppyseeds
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tsp almond extract
  • freshly grated zest of 3 lemons
  • a squeeze of lemon juice (about a half lemon's worth)

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 350F/175C.

Zest your lemon. I agree, it is one of the more tedious aspects of lemon-related-recipe-prep. But I promise, it will be worth it.

Combine your dry ingredients - the flour, caster sugar, salt, baking powder, and poppyseeds, in a mixing bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients - the buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon zest and the juice from half a lemon. Blend with a handheld mixer, and then gradually add in the mix of dry ingredients. Blend for another minute or two, until all lumps have disappeared.

Lightly grease a bundt tin (or load tins, or muffin tins if you prefer!), pour the batter in, and bake for about 45 minutes - until an inserted fork comes out clean.  Let cool for at least 15 minuets before attempting to dislodge the cake from it's tin.

If you'd prefer this WITH the lemon glaze, check out Brenda's original recipe over on A Farmgirl's Dabbles.

(Thank you Brenda and Joanna!)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day Adventure: Richmond Park

For those of you in London wanting a little getaway from the city, have you been to Richmond Park? You can get there easily using public transport, and there are lots of nice little trails and paths that meander through the park. 

There are wild deer roaming around, which is something you don't see every day!

These guys look a bit like they've spotted Fenton.
Have you been to Richmond Park? I also really like wandering around Hampstead Heath, Regents Park, and Kew Gardens. Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pumpkin Muffins

It's September, and do you know what that means? At least according to elementary/primary school students it is now fall/autumn. Which, to me, means pumpkins! Okay, who am I kidding? I'd eat pumpkins year round. But apparently autumn and winter are the socially acceptable pumpkin eating seasons. 

So to kick off September in proper pumpkin style, I'm sharing one of my many Pumpkin Muffin recipes. They're also gluten and dairy free (although you can adjust this recipe if you like gluten and/or dairy)!

What you'll need: (makes 12 muffins)

  • 150g pumpkin (canned or cooked - I used Libby's)
  • 1 egg
  • 120ml unsweetened almond milk (I like Blue Diamond)
  • 20g melted coconut oil
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 200g self-raising flour (I used Dove's Farm GF blend again - does that make me predictable?)
  • 40g light brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • pecans (optional)

What to do:

Preheat oven to 180C/360F.

Combine the pumpkin, egg, coconut oil, vanilla, and almond milk. I used a handheld beater for this, you could use a whisk though. Definitely don't go high powered on this stage, as it is mostly liquid and will go everywhere!

Next add the flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice directly to this mixture.

Blend thoroughly. It should look like this:

Finally, blend in the light brown sugar, continuing to mix until you achieve this consistency:

Next, lightly grease a 12 muffin tin with a bit of coconut oil. I know in my pictures I've used paper muffin liners. But unless you want to be picking bits of paper off your muffins before you eat them (Mmm, fibre. Haha!) I would highly recommend just using coconut oil instead.

Finally, if you'd like to, top each muffin with a pecan half. Another option with the pecans would be to chop a decent sized handful and blend into the batter. I've tried it this way too, and it's tasty!

Pop into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until you can insert a toothpick or fork and it comes out clean.

I've been eating these bad boys with my coffee for the last two days. Nom nom nom. Pumpkin.

Ed: These are best eaten within 24 hours of baking!