Pumpkin Pie Spice

Picture 617 copy

I never have pumpkin pie spice when I need it. Do you?

Fret no more. You can make it at home!!

As far as I can tell, everyone’s perception of what pumpkin pie spice should be is different. This one works for me and caters to my taste. If you like a little more clove, go for it. Cinnamon-a-holic? Have at it. Ginger lover… go to town. I would suggest not going overboard with the alterations but do make it your own.

This is a guideline.

Picture 632 copy

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Note: This recipe makes about 2 tablespoons, I quadruple it so that I have plenty on hand and I’m not making a new batch every time I need a bit of spice. Do what works for you!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
big pinch of cardamom

Picture 625 copy

Instructions:

In a small bowl, whisk all spices together, working out any lumps that might occur. Store in an old spice jar. Be sure to label it ๐Ÿ™‚

As you can see, I made my own nifty label: I scribbled on a torn off piece of notebook paper and taped it to my old cinnamon spice jar. Ta-da!!! Instant class.

Picture 629 copy

Advertisement

Dimply Plum Cake

Picture 143 copy

Today’s TWD post is supposed to be a delicious looking fig cake (head on over to Ursula of Cookie Rookie’s blog for the recipe).

I have figs. But I chose to save them for something else as you won’t find figs running rampant around here, so when I saw two packs of great looking mission figs, I nabbed them with a different project in mind. I’ll get to this cake eventually, but for right now please accept this equally delicious plum cake.

Serve it warm, loaded up with some vanilla ice cream or cinnamon-infused whipped cream for a wonderful Autumn dessert.

Picture 149 copy

Dimply Plum Cake
recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 plums (Italian prune plums, if you can find them), halved and pitted

Instructions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degress F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and put the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom, if you’re using it, together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, orange zest and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter – I usually make 4 rows of 4 plum halves each – jiggling the plums a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 15 minutes – during which time the plums’ juice will return to the fruit – then run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Picture 157 copy

Flip Over Plum Cake – TWD

Picture 183 copy

I have taken it upon myself to re-name this recipe to “the key to my mother’s heart.”

Plums are pretty much my mommy’s favorite fruit ever. She loves them all: sweet, sour, black, red, overripe, fresh, baked, dried, juiced… you name it.

So I jumped at the chance to invite her over when I was making these and as soon as I said the magic words (plum cake, duh) she came right over. She says she came for the company but I think she secretly came for the cake ๐Ÿ˜‰ She walked in and could smell the plums mingling with the cake and cinnamon and she was eager to try some! Which is rare as my mom isn’t really one for a lot of sugary baked sweets.

1 2ย 3

Lucky for her, I scaled back the recipe (I quartered it and it was perfect for 3 ramekins) which meant that it was in and out of the oven in no time. Topping it with some homemade vanilla ice cream (recipe coming soon, promise) guaranteed that this dessert wouldn’t last long.

And that held true. She inhaled it and loved every delicious, warm bite.

Picture 190 copy

That makes it a definite repeat in this house ๐Ÿ™‚

A big thanks to Becky of Project Domestication for choosing this recipe, you made my mom very happy ๐Ÿ™‚

Head on over to Becky’s blog for the recipe. (Or click here to go directly to it.)

Picture 189 copy

SMS – Gingersnaps

10-20-08 1070 copy

Sometimes I wonder if I’m just a dunce, or if my taste buds aren’t fully matured. I have never had that aha! moment when something tasted SO refined, SO intricate and complex that I feel fancy. I have tried many different cookies and brownies and most of them, have tasted the same to me. I can’t seem to tell much difference when it comes to flavor.

These cookies are a perfect example. They are ‘gingersnaps’ but what makes them so different from gingerbread cookies? Or Dorie’s Molasses cookies? Is it purely the texture? Or is it flavor too?

I can’t tell.

And honestly I really don’t mind. At the moment. It just drives me nuts sometimes ๐Ÿ™‚

Just wondering if taste- bud-ignorance really is bliss?

These cookies are good. Not ‘OMG this is the only cookie I’ll ever eat’ good… but good. They are actually a bit too spicy for me, but I did use black pepper instead of white. Underbake them just a bit for a chewy cookie and bake them a minute or so more for a crispy cookie.

My first thought was to make them into a crust for a lemon cheesecake. And I did. But you’ll have to wait for that one.

I’m cruel, I know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

10-20-08 1058 copy

For the recipe, head on over to Gloria’s aptly titled blog The Ginger Snap Girl.

Up next week: North Fork Peach Raspberry Pie. Peaches. Raspberries. I think the co-workers are going to be quite the happy lot, myself included ๐Ÿ™‚

TWD – Tender Shortcakes

10-20-08 361 copy

Did I mention that I’ve never had a strawberry shortcake the REAL way? Its true! The only way I’ve ever had it was with those spongy, rather disgusting ‘angel food cake’ cups piled high with berries and whipped cream.

Boy have I been missing out!!

Shortcakes are really supposed to be made with a tender biscuit in place of that angel food mass which provides a COMPLETELY different texture, flavor, and structure to the shortcake.

1 2

Don’t be put off by the fact that I say ‘biscuit.’ It is nothing like the biscuit that you spoon sausage gravy on top of or the kind you eat with bacon and eggs. This is in a class of its own. Tender, soft and pillowy, sweet, crumbly. Sounds good?

Take it a step further: add juicy strawberries. Or raspberries. Or blackberries. Or peaches. Or sautรฉed cinnamon apples. Or sautรฉed brown sugar pineapples. Or any insane combination of anything that you deem necessary to satisfy your tummy. (I went with the traditional strawberries and my second variation was sautรฉed cinnamon apples. Obviously.)

And then, go for the jugular (are you ready for this?)… homemade sweetened whipped cream. Piled dangerously high. That’s right, I said it!!

10-20-08 358 copy

Sweetened Whipped Cream Recipe:

2 cups cold heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, can be substituted for any extract or even rum or kahluah, if you’re boozy like that ๐Ÿ˜€ )

Directions:

In a large bowl (trust me, you’ll need it) whip cream starting on low speed using a hand-held mixer until you notice a bit of a textural change. Increase the speed bit by bit as the cream gains more and more substance and texture. On medium-high, whip the cream until ALMOST at desired consistency. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and whip until satisfied with texture and structure. DO NOT over-whip the cream as it will separate and taking it too far… it can turn into butter :O

Thank you to Cathy of The Tortefeasor for choosing this simple, delicious recipe. You can find the recipe for the shortcakes here. And check out the other bakers who baked along this week. I’m certain you’ll find some great inspiration there ๐Ÿ™‚

Up next week: Raisin Swirl Bread.

SMS – Completely askew Double Crusted Caramel Apple Pie (Minis)

10-20-08 383 copy

“I’m going to make minis” I say. “I won’t eat an entire apple pie anyhow. Ok… I SHOULDN’T eat an entire pie” I say. “Pie crust hates me anyhow” I say. “My pie crusts always come out slightly crappy. I’ll half the pie dough and make minis” I say.

Sometimes I wish I would just learn to keep my big trap shut. I decided to make minis mainly because my pie crusts have always been nothing short of disappointing. Always. Not one instance where my pie crust has turned out flaky and delicious. Well, until now. OF COURSE!! I swear the baking gods hate me sometimes.

I can chalk my pie dough up to actually taking care to follow the steps and to put everything in the freezer before it was to be used. Cold butter, cold shortening, cold flour even. I used the maximum amount of water that was listed and although I though I needed more, I stopped. Rolling it was a bit of a pain because it wanted to crack on me BUT I didn’t really care because I thought it would suck anyhow. Psh.

1 2

On to the caramel. HA!! The god bless me once and damn me in the same pie. I tried THREEEEE TIIIIIMES (persistent little thing, aren’t I?) to caramelize my sugar and water. And THREE TIMES it seized. It just wouldn’t stay liquidy. I have NO IDEA what I did wrong but I threw the pot in the sink, added cinnamon (1TBSP), nutmeg (1/4 tsp), and allspice (1/4 tsp) to my apples (left out the zest and upped the sugar 2TBSP extra) and went about my pie making.

Halving the recipe left me with 4 ramekins full-o-pie. These are goooood! Eat it waaaaarm and delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and be quickly transported into apple pie heaven. There is simply no other way ๐Ÿ™‚

10-20-08 385 copy

Thank you to Susan of Baking with Susan for Choosing this recipe, how’d you know that I have a weakness for baked apples? But honestly, why didn’t you warn me that I should have made an entire pie? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Head on over to her blog for the recipe and be sure to head on over to the other bakers’ blogs to see their (complete) pies.

MSC – Gingerbread Cupcakes

IMG00709-20091214-1823 copy

I have run behind. BIG TIME. I keep proooomising myself that I’m going to post.

“I baked it, I photographed it, tiiiime to post”

But it hasn’t happened. I’ve been busy, tired, busy, or… well… tired.

But I’m breaking the chain. For now at least ๐Ÿ˜‰

And what a recipe to come back on. Martha’s Gingerbread Cupcakes with fluffy vanilla frosting. This cupcake is the epitome of the holiday season. Holidays in a cupcake wrapper, if you will. It’s fluffy, aromatic and quite tasty.

IMG00722-20091215-0753 copy

I made half a batch of cupcakes (which actually yielded exactly 11 cuppies) and quartered the frosting and it was enough to frost all the cuppies so that each cuppie has a dash of sweet delight topped off with a sprinkling of cinnamon. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kayte at Grandma’s Kitchen Table is to thank for this…. deliciousness! Thanks Kayte. PS, Hiii!!

The recipe can be found on page 246 of the Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book. Its a great book, trust me on that!!

IMG00706-20091214-1821 copy

Please forgive my piping skills, as I don’t have any ๐Ÿ˜‰

For more pics, click here.

SMS – Pear Cranberry Muffins

NOTE: my flickr account is being a pain in the *cough* so for now, because I’m out of time… for pictures… visit my Flickr account! And will SOMEONE please tell me how I’m supposed to transfer my pics from flickr to my blog? Thanks!

There is one phrase that I tend to save for something big, so it will make a big impact when I use it.

DOUBLE WHAMMY!!

And that’s exactly what these muffins are. Easy to make (see: throw together) and deeeeeelicious (see: yum).

The base for these is the exact same that I used for the peach muffins, but those were a disaster compared to these. They were very dense and just lacked in texture and flavor. I needed to alter these to make ’em work for me because pears…. and cranberries?? Hello, lover!

I halved the recipe, omitted the orange zest (I didn’t have any on hand, but I WILL throw this in next time), omitted the gingersnap crumble (to cut down on cost, but will consider next time), ย substituted half of the butter for unsweetened applesauce (and added roughly 1/2 tsp more), I added cinnamon (I want to say 1/2 TBS but I can’t recall exactly, I just threw it in) and I used 2% milk in place of the whole milk. My pears weren’t ripe (which made for a nice crunchy texture), cranberries frozen solid, and my milk and egg weren’t at room temperature. Threw it all together, and was blessed with the most tender, moist, flavorful muffins that have ever come out of my oven! This is a keeper, a keeper I tell ya!!

Because I know you’ll want the recipe, head on over to Jennifer’s blog Maple N’ Cornbread. Oogle her goodies and nab that recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

SMS – Apple Orchard Pecan (and almond) Crumble

crumble

Sometimes my train of thought makes no sense to anyone but me. And it ALWAYS makes perfect sense in my head. It’s that when I write it down that I realize how randomly scattered my thoughts are and I must find the link that connects them all.

I wrote it down and then edited it and then deleted it only to attempt it again. Without any chance of you understanding what the hell I was talking about. So I warn you… this might make NO sense ๐Ÿ˜€

I’m going to link celery to crumbles. Stay with me….

I had these vivid flashbacks of eating a red version of celery with sugar as a child —> I set out to find what this “red celery-like” fruit/veggie/whatever was —> Fall upon a rhubarb crumble recipe and have an epiphany —> Aha! Its friggin rhubarb —> Scour the internets for a ridiculous amount of rhubarb recipes in light of said epiphany —> Run to numerous stores over the course of a few months searching for rhubarb and find none. NONE! —> Finally give up the witch hunt for rhubarb and sulk, sadly —> Pick up frozen bag of blueberries and almost fall to my knees with joy of finding a bag of rhubarb —> Purchase ramekins for personal sized crumbles for the rhubarb —> Never make said crumble —> Pine incessantly over wanting crumbles —> Reads this week’s SMS recipe —> REJOICE in crumbly euphoria.

Don’t look at me like that… I told you. I waaaaarned you. It makes NO SENSE. Mention crumble and I somehow come up with celery. But this is what runs through my head when I hear the word crumble. It makes sense to me. That’s all that counts, right? RIGHT?!

crumble

crumble crumble
crumble crumble

This crumble is quick to put together (provided you are an expert apple peeler and your nuts are already chopped) and tastes better the next day at room temperature (strictly my opinion). I am sad to report that there was NO VANILLA ICE CREAM or caramel drizzle ANYWHERE in my apartment, therefore my “perfect crumble” dreams…. crumbled. *sigh*

I think my crumble topping went south somewhere because it was more of a uniform-melty-nutty-caramely-crunchy-MASS than what I imagined. BUT maybe that’s what all of you came up with… or maybe I’m just a complete moron who can’t read and thinks of celery when “crumble” is mentioned. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Please visit Cristine’s delightful blog, Cristine Cooks for the recipe. Visit the SMS blogroll to see how the other bakers fared with this crumble.

crumble

Please excuse the pictures. It was night-time and there was obviously NO NATURAL LIGHT to speak of.

TWD – Applesauce Spice Bars

applesauce spice bars

Ahh Fall. Brimming with promises of delicious, warm, and tantalizing scents, colors and flavors.

As soon as I read the recipe for these bars I was excited ecstatic! Apples, cinnamon, nutmeg… oh my head swirled with happy thoughts of (slightly) cooler weather and pretty Fall colors. I daydreamed of jumping into a pile of freshly raked leaves and coming home to these bars and the smell of my favorite mulled apple cider candle.

I had high hopes for these bars, I really truly did.

Once I put them in the oven, I nervously awaited the outcome. The air smelled DIVINE (but also hinted to me that I needed to add more spices next time) but for some reason the taste just didn’t match up to the scent. But I hadn’t written them off yet.

“I’ll let the flavors meld together for a day, that’ll do the trick!”

And I did, but they still fell short (maybe because I used Cruzan Rum rather than an apple based one?). Don’t get me wrong, they are good, just not what I expected. But that’s my opinion alone, as I’ve already heard great things about my cake-like bars.

Next time I’ll add more spices, use the apple rum suggested or maybe substitute some of the liquid for apple cider, bake them in a smaller pan for some height, add the nuts and raisins, and I will most definitely use a different glaze (or at least sub honey for the corn syrup).

applesauce spice bars

Side note: brown gooey bars don’t exactly photograph too well (especially when you aren’t a professional photographer), so please forgive the shots of these.

If you want to try the recipe for yourself, Visit Karen over at Something Sweet By Karen.

Click here for more pics.