Monday, October 25, 2010

Favorite Pumpkin Bread

After this month's recent challenge with the Cake Slice Bakers, I started thinking about my favorite pumpkin bread. It's been awhile since I've made it mostly out of sheer laziness and a over abundance of cookbooks mostly unused which are staring at me reproachfully wondering when I'm going to get around to them. But with fall officially here and the leaves turning all sorts of lovely colors, it's finally inspired me to drag this book out and try to give it a slightly healthier spin by substituting apple sauce for the oil. And as it's a quick bread, it's easy even for a lazy girl like me to whip up on a fall afternoon. The recipe will make 2 large loaves or three smaller loaves. I opted to make a small bundt cake and 4 mini loaves instead. 

 Even with the substitution of apple sauce for the oil, this still made a very moist and tasty cake, with a pleasing pumpkin flavor and just enough of a cinnamon hint to go very well with the store bought chocolate dulce de leche sauce I served along with the cake.

Now if you'll excuse me, there's a plate of cake with my name on it taunting me from across the kitchen.

 Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens Complete Book of Baking  

3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup apple sauce
4 eggs
3 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup water
(1) 16 oz can pumpkin

Mix apple sauce and sugar together. Add eggs. In separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together. Add dry mix to apple sauce/sugar mix, alternating with water, beating on low speed until combined. Beat in pumpkin.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes if using large loaf pans. If using a bundt pan and mini loaves as I did and you  forget to set the timer, cook loaves for approximately 30 minutes and bundt cake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

TCS: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

This month, my fellow bakers and I started a new book "Cake Keeper Cakers" by Lauren Chattman. And although my first pick wasn't picked this month, I was still pretty pleased with being able to make pumpkin pound cake.

Now I thought this cake was good, but not great, although I think the fact that I used dark chocolate chips (it was all I had in the house) instead of milk chocolate chips definitely took something away from the cake. Plus, I have a favorite pumpkin bread recipe that I think I was also unfairly comparing this recipe to. I was hoping for a little more of a pronounced pumpkin taste in the cake was well. 

Still, overall, a good cake, and something I might bake again for friends and serve alongside some steaming mugs of hot cocoa or coffee.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
(Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman)

1¾ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
Pinch nutmeg
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350F. Coat the inside of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl.

Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
With the mixer on medium low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Stir in the milk.
Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, ½ cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack and then turn it right side up on a rack to cool completely.
Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for up to 1 week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

CI: A Farm Wife's Fresh Pear Tart

After a short hiatus with my fellow bakers/cooks from Cooking Italy, we're back and baking our way again through Marcella Hazan's amazing "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" book. This week, (well, last week's recipe really...I am a just a  little late making this) is "A Farm Wife's Fresh Pear Tart."

For once, I followed the instructions fairly precisely (I know, who would have thought it) and went with her recommendations of using Anjou Pears (Bosc is another) for the best flavor results. However, as I didn't have whole cloves, I sprinkled a pinch of clove and cinnamon into the batter instead.

Now the most amazing thing is that I really liked this. And that's unusual as I am normally a big sugar fiend and this is a very understated dessert, allowing the pears to shine through as the focal point. Although, I will confess, I did use some homemade caramel sauce as a drizzle but it didn't overwhelm the tart and actually complemented it nicely.

This is something I would definitely make again. Even better, it's not horribly high in points as I'm on Weight Watchers (for the record, it's 7 points if you make 6 servings) so it made a wonderful Sunday morning breakfast for me.

A Farm Wife's Fresh Pear Tart
Slightly Adapted From: Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian cooking

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cloves and cinnamon 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 lbs fresh pears (Bosc or Anjou)
9 inch round cake pan
Butter for greasing pan and dotting cake
1/2 cup dry unflavored bread crumbs.

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine eggs and milk together. Add sugar and salt and whisk until incorporated. Add flour slowly until you have a thick batter.

Peel pears. Slice in half and remove core and seeds. Slice pears thinly and stir into batter until pears are evenly distributed.

Smear pan well with butter. Sprinkle light coating of bread crumbs into baking pan and tap to remove excess crumbs. Place dabs of butter across top of batter. Place pan in top half of oven and bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove tart from pan while still slightly warm. Marcella recommended spatulas which did not work for me, so I slid a knife around the edge, inverted it onto a platter and flipped it over to another platter which worked well.

Serve slightly warm with optional drizzle of caramel and enjoy.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gingerbread Pancakes

Anytime my sister comes to visit, it's time to break out the pots and pans and try something new. I believe she has now rightfully earned the honorary title of Most Brave Sister Guinea Pig at this point.

I had been thinking of doing something nice and healthy from one of my weight watchers cookbooks but waking up to a cool morning made me want for something hearty and warm. This hit the right spot. I always know when I have a winning recipe with my sister based on her mmm's.This was was a mmm from beginning to end. It's a nicely understated spicy perfect fall breakfast .

from Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch by Williams Sonoma

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup water

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 250 degrees.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. In another bowl whisk together brown sugar, eggs, molasses, butter and water. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just blended. There will be small lumps in batter.

Preheat griddle pan until hot. Spray with cooking spray or brush with butter. Cook pancakes to desired doneness. Remove pancakes to plate in oven to keep warm while cooking - do not cover plate or pancakes will get soggy. Serve pancakes warm with syrup.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

SMS: Banana Cupcakes with Coconut Pecan Frosting

This week, the bakers over at Sweet Melissa Sundays got a yummy pick by Eliana of "A Chicka Bakes"  AND a challenge to pick the cake of their choice to go along with it. I've never been a big fan of German Chocolate cake which I've always associated this frosting with. However, I've always been a big fan of 99% of all known frostings so it was time to give this frosting a second chance...just with a new cake.

I went with a very yummy and moist Banana cupcake recipe from AllRecipes.Com. For awhile, I had been trying to figure out a way of giving it a pineapple filling but soon gave up on that because I couldn't find the right consistency and flavor. Also, it helped that the banana and coconut went very well together all by themselves.

For the frosting, you definitely need to check out Eliana's blog where she will be posting the recipe. And stop by the other Sweet Melissa Sundays bakers who are sure to be posting some very yummy combinations of their own.


Banana Cupcakes with Coconut Pecan Frosting


  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla, bananas and buttermilk. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to banana mixture. Fill 18 paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. In a small mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and enough milk to achieve desired spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes.