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?