Apple Spice Cake with Praline Frosting

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Many of the flavors of Autumn I love most are combined in this apple cake. The cake looks like the cover of my recent Southern Living magazine, but the recipe omits the layer of cream cheese batter that cake features.  The kitchen smells like a cup of chai tea, and we can hardly wait to slice and taste!  Great for dessert, as a treat with coffee, or toasted for breakfast!

Apple Spice Cake
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cups flour
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
Praline Frosting
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (about 5 oz.) powdered sugar, sifted

1. Bring brown sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium, stirring constantly; boil,stirring constantly, 1 minute.

2. Remove pan from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Gently stir until mixture begins to cool and thicken, 4 to 5 minutes. Use immediately, sprinkling top with toasted pecans if desired.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

blueberrybreakfastcakeThis recipe is available several places online.  I made it for the first time last week, but it won’t be the last time!  When blueberries are in season and available for good prices, I buy enough to freeze, so I used frozen blueberries which worked great.  Whether using fresh or frozen, be sure to put the berries in a ziploc bag with 1/4 cup flour and toss.  This keeps the berries from sinking to the bottom in a soggy clump. Then, fold the flour-coated fruit into the batter as the very last step before baking. This coating absorbs some of the liquid released by the fruit as it bakes and keeps the fruit in place until the crumb has set. This works for any fruit called for in a recipe as well as any other ingredients, like nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips. You can use this trick when baking muffins, cupcakes, scones, or any quick bread.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

½ cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar, diviided (Save out 1 Tablespoon sugar for topping)

2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 cups fresh blueberries

½ cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and  sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

In a ziploc bag,  toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour and set aside.

Combine the remaining flour, baking powder and salt and add to batter  a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk.  Fold in the blueberries gently.

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle with another tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness and if necessary, return to oven until toothpick comes out clean..

Sweet Cherry Cake

Strangely, a week after I published this post, I find that it has disappeared!  All except the title have vanished. Since we are in the middle of moving with little time for sleuthing, I need to delay my search for the photo and recipe content of the post.  In the meantime, I will do this week’s post.  This never happened to me before.  Any comments appreciated!

Texas Pecan Pound Cake

20160303_151528I read this morning that today, March 4, is National Pound Cake Day. I must have known it was coming because yesterday I pulled out an old favorite recipe for pound cake and baked it. As with most pound cakes, the list of ingredients and mixing are fairly simple.  This one’s claim to fame is the addition of a cup of Texas pecans.  The recipe was given to me over 40 years ago by my neighbor on McCree Road, Jean Merrill. She wrote it on a note pad from her kitchen and I still pull out the yellowed slip of paper and use it, remembering what a good neighbor she was and how much our chldren enjoyed playing together. I believe the recipe itself came from Jean’s father, who owned a restaurant in San Antonio.

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In the middle of heated campaigns in a presidential election year, I smile when I see the notepad, likely a campaign freebie from John Traeger, who served as State Senator from District 21 in Texas.  Mr. Traeger’s daughter Cam and her husband previously owned the house we lived in when Jean gave me the recipe.  They had been friends of Jean and Ralph, who became our neighbors and friends when we bought the house in 1972.  My goodness, the memories that baking a cake can bring to surface!

We like the addition of a generous splash of good vanilla extract!

Texas Pecan Pound Cake

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

5 eggs

1 cup chopped pecans.

As you can see, I was given a minimum of directions, which I consider a compliment.  Jean knew that I knew the order and manner of mixing!  I will expand instructions but after you have baked this cake as many times as I have, you won’t need them!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a tube or bundt pan. With electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating after each.  Add flour gradually.  Stir in pecans and spoon into pan.  Bake 55 minutes.

 

Cranberry Christmas Tea Cake

 

IMG_3801 When fresh cranberries begin appearing in the markets every year sometime before Thanksgiving, I usually buy several pounds because we have so many favorite ways to use them – whole berry sauces, in bars and cookies, relishes, and hot salads. I love their color, the way they heap up, glistening, in a colander or on a cutting board.  They are beautiful to work with, if a little frisky to chop!  But I like most the delicious foods prepared with them, plus the good nutrition they offer. This year I made a tea bread, beautiful in its simplicity and dusted with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. I even love the plate, one my sister gave me along with its companion book, A Cup of Christmas Tea. The title is on the plate under the cake!.

Yields 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries, roughly chopped (fresh or dried)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • powdered sugar, garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease 2 loaf pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl or mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy. 4-5 minutes.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5. Alternate between adding 1/3 cup of dry ingredients and 1-2 tablespoons buttermilk. Begin and end with flour mixture.
  6. Gently fold in chopped cranberries and pour batter into loaf pans.
  7. Place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool, then sift powdered sugar on top and enjoy! (But one of our loaves disappeared while it was still warm!)

 

Maddie’s Chocolate Cake

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Our Christmas time with our middle son, Jeremy, and his family, began just before New Year’s when they arrived, filling us up with good hugs, little girl laughter, and lots of help in the kitchen.  At 8, Maddie has been developing her cooking skills for long enough that I barely need to stay in the kitchen while she creates.  I do, of course, for the pure pleasure of being with her and being amazed at her skill.  This cake is a deep, rich, chocolate, (made from scratch, of course!) with chocolate buttercream frosting, layered with strawberry jam. Beautiful to look at, and every crumb was delicious!

Recipe?  Times have changed!  Our younger cooks no longer pull out a cookbook to look up a recipe – the internet offers a wider range of choices, plus videos that show every step! As Maddie says, “Just go to YouTube!”  So here is the link for ingredients and easy to follow video:  Print version available by clicking on the link at bottom left of video.

I have made many a chocolate cake, but I learned several things from watching this video with Maddie.  I wish I had realized a long time ago that buttering my cooling rack would save the top of the cake sticking!  Thank you, Maddie,  This grandmother is still learning new tricks, and you are teaching me

Lemon Cream and Berry Delight

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For Ben’s birthday I made Peanut Butter Pie –  no baking, no heating up the kitchen.  For Joe’s birthday last week we enjoyed another cool sweet for the birthday “cake.”  I found a recipe for this layered dessert in the most recent Food and Wine magazine, titled Lemony Layered Cheesecake.  It does have mascarpone cheese, but is more light and fluffy than any cheesecake . It looks complicated and would certainly be elegant enough to grace a table for guests, but by some clever application of plastic wrap, it turns out like magic  Oh yes,  it is absolutely delicious!  This combination works well especially when berries are in season, but other combinations are great, too..  Try using the  cream paired with raspberry preserves spread between layers of chocolate wafer cookies, or mix apple butter with the mascarpone, layer with ginger snaps, and sprinkle with minced crystallized ginger.

Lemon Cream and Berry Delight

1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup homemade*  or purchased lemon curd

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

20 whole graham crackers

Berries for topping’- blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries

Line a 9X5 inch loaf pan (I used pyrex) with plastic wrap, leaving 5 or  inch overhang on all sides. In bowl of electric mixer, combine mascarpone and cream and beat on medium speed until smooth and beginning to be firm . Don’t over beat.  Fold in lemon curd and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt.

Spread a thin layer of lemon cream over the bottom of plastic wrapped pan. Arrange a layer of single graham crackers on top of this, breaking some to cover.  Repeat the layers of cream and graham crackers 5 or 6 times until you have just enough cream to spread on top.. Wrap the dessert with overhanging plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator, unwrap top pieces of plastic wrap, place flat serving dish on top and invert pan.  Remove all plastic wrap, decorate with berries as you wish, and serve, adding berries alongside.

*see my recipe for lemon curd in a November 3, 2011 post

 

Fresh Peach Coffee Cake

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There is no doubt that fresh peaches are best sliced and eaten without any thing added and certainly without cooking.  But  if you have more ripe peaches than you can eat that way, be sure to try this delicious coffee cake.

Fresh Peach Coffee Cake

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup  flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups peeled and sliced peaches

 

For topping:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F . Grease and flour a 9 inch square baking dish, or spray with Baker’s Joy.

In a large bowl, cream 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup butter. Stir in Greek yogurt, almond extract, vanilla, and eggs. Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Spread 1/2 the batter into the baking pan. Spoon oh peaches, and top with remaining batter.

In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients. Cut in butter to make crumbly mixture .  Spoon on top of the batter. Bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake

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I love this lemon cake.  My husband has decided it is favorite cake.  I like it because it doesn’t call for 7-Up or lemon jello or lemon extract, just fresh Meyer lemon juice.  Since we have an abundant harvest almost every year from our one small Meyer lemon tree, I really like using the juice in zest!   I adapted the recipe for specific use of the Meyer lemons from Ina Garten’s recipe on her Barefoot Conntessa Food Channel program.

Mary Ann’s notes:

I juiced lemons and put juice in the freezer last year, as well as freezing some lemons whole, so we are still using last year’s fresh juice.  If you do this, a good way to have small amounts of juice available for cooking is to freeze the juice in ice cube trays or mini muffin baking sheets.  If you need zest, a whole frozen lemon zests even more easily than unfrozen ones.  The “naked” lemons can then be thawed and used even though they are very mushy.

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Before a predicted hard freeze in December, we harvested what we thought were all of this year’s lemons.  Last week after some foliage had been cut and removed,we discovered one solitary lemon which my granddaughter Skye picked to add to our photos for this post. I will harvest on a much more as needed basis in the future.

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Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake

2 sticks butter

 1/2 cups sugar (2 cups for batter, 1/2 cup for simple syrup)

4 large eggs

1/3 cup grated Meyer lemon zest 

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice, divided

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice

 

Set out butter, eggs, and buttermilk to allow to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may line the bottom with parchment paper, but this is optional.


Cream room temperature  butter and 2 cups sugar with electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. When the cakes test done, remove from oven and  allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cooled cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
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