Category: brown sugar

Cherry “surprise” coffee cake (the surprise is cream cheese!).

Cherry cream cheese surprise coffee cake.

Indy and I are best buds. When Jay leaves for work at night, it’s just us. We watch TV, cook (okay, I cook), read, or cuddle in bed, sometimes blogging. He usually naps during those activities. However when I get up he follows me around relentlessly. Even waiting outside the bathroom for me. I call him my shadow. My 100-lb. shadow… & bodyguard.

Consequently, Indy is also my baking buddy.

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Amish baking at it’s best… Shoo-fly pie.

Amish Shoo-fly pie.

Shoo-fly pie is one of those extremely interesting pies that’s really nothing more than sugar. It’s a goo-pie, really. Made with sticky molasses & sugar. And a little flour, and baking soda. But mostly sugar.

Obviously, it’s one of my favorite things.

So back when Jay surprised me with a new cook book, I was pleased to find out that it was this one!

The Amish Cook's Baking Book (and a recipe for shoo-fly pie!)

It’s filled with amazing pies & cakes & cookies & Amish stories. The first thing I wanted to make was the shoo-fly pie.

However, truth be told, I was hesitant to try to make a shoo-fly pie. See, Dutch Haven in Lancaster, PA makes THE BEST shoo-fly pie, ever, and I’ve eaten enough of it to know. Most shoo-fly pies aren’t as sweet as theirs, and that’s what I love about it. It’s a lot to live up to. Trust me, I know this well. Jay & I once went in three times in one day to sample it (they offer everyone who enters a sample!). We bought three to take home. And ate them. In like a week. So yes, I know all too well the high standard of shoo-fly pie.

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Gingerbread cake with marshmallow snow & paper trees.

For some reason, as I was writing the title of this post, I thought of the lyrics from Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Odd.

Anyway, gingerbread is one of my favorite holiday treats. I love the cookies, I love it in a spicier form like pfeffernusse and I love gingerbread cake. I don’t make it nearly enough, though, even around the holidays. I have a favorite gingerbread cookie recipe & a favorite Guinness ginger cake recipe, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy trying others. So I thought that this year, I’d make a plain gingerbread cake- no Guinness, no chocolate- and top it with some fluffy white snow.

And trees. Gotta have trees.

Gingerbread cake with a marshmallow "snow" and paper cupcake liner trees. And elves!

For the trees, I got the how-to from The Cake Blog. Pretty self-explanatory, but still. It’s a fun & easy way to make cupcake or cake toppers.

It’s so retro-looking, isn’t it?

Cupcake liner Christmas trees!

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Figgy pudding bars made with Duchy Originals oaten biscuits!

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree!

Christmas is officially on it’s way. The big tree in Rockefeller Center has been lit for 2 weeks now, everyone has been shopping up a storm, and of course baking! Rightly so… it’s literally 8 days away! If you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking of Christmas-y treats. Which brings me to today’s post. If you’re a longtime reader, you’ll remember both my figgy pudding cupcakes & also that last holiday season I made a recipe featuring Duchy Originals lemon shortbread cookies.

(If you’re a new reader- well, suffice it to say, one time I made figgy pudding cupcakes & another time I made a lemon cranberry cobbler recipe featuring Duchy Originals lemon shortbread cookies. Haha.)

Duchy Originals oaten biscuits... transformed into figgy pudding bars!

Anyway… the lovely folks at Duchy Originals wanted me to create a new recipe, this time for their Oaten biscuits. The oaten variety was the first one that was made for Duchy:

The Oaten Biscuit was the original Duchy Original – it was their first product back in 1992. Duchy Originals grow the wheat and oats themselves on farms in the UK. To get the perfect recipe and flavor, they teamed up with Walkers Shortbread who have been making shortbread in the Scottish Highlands for over 100 years.

Of course I said yes! I absolutely love the Duchy company & also the Walkers Shortbread company. In case you weren’t aware, Duchy was started by Prince Charles (yes-that Prince Charles!) in 1992 in order to promote organic food and farming and to help protect and sustain the local countryside and wildlife. it is one of the U.K.’s leading organic and sustainable food companies, producing a range of over 250 products from biscuits to preserves and gifts to garden seeds. A donation from the sale of Duchy Originals products is given to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation. More than $1 million is raised annually in this way for distribution to charitable causes all over the world. Duchy Originals from Waitrose shortbreads and cookies are baked by the world famous Walkers Shortbread in the Scottish Highlands.

And I thought it appropriate that being that they’re an English brand, and it’s Christmas, I make a “figgy pudding” reference.

Easy figgy pudding cookie bars! Made with Duchy Originals oaten biscuits & fig butter. You can use store-bought fig butter if you need to.

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I didn’t know what to call these, so how about ‘peppery orange ginger muffins’?

After a while, coming up with names for things gets old. And tiresome. And when I’m doing 600 million other things (like for example: painting 5 rooms, 1 ceiling & a hallway, refinishing hardwoods, installing new light fixtures, getting new appliances, redoing my bathroom- there’s literally NO walls just studs & insulation, and of course on top of all that figuring out what’s going on for Thanksgiving) I can’t really focus well enough to come up with a name thats either a) clever or b) makes sense.

See, there’s been a lot of work going on at the house. There are a lot of people working very hard- myself included. I need to have snacks & goodies on hand to feed the troops… or else they might revolt. And the revolt might include not finishing my house! So I try to throw together things that are unique and not just your average snack repeated over & over. Being that it’s been so chilly & windy, I thought a warm, spicy, gingery muffin would work. Then I’d post the recipe if they came out good. Which they definitely did.

Peppery orange ginger muffins. Or spiced orange ginger muffins with black pepper. Whatever they are, they're amazing!

So I just gave up.

Peppery orange ginger muffins it is!

They’re like gingerbread cake, but with orange to sweeten it up a little more. There are so many flavors going on in these, you’d think they’d be “messy” tasting, but they’re not. They’re right on target.

Side note: they came out so delicate & perfectly rounded. Not big or obnoxious or overflowing out of the pans. I don’t know why that is, but they’re good. And I guess it really doesn’t matter. So I eat two instead of one. Big deal.

Ginger muffins with orange zest, candied ginger & black pepper.

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Apple cake, sadness, sickness & Spode.

Apple cake made with hazelnuts. The hazelnuts toast in the oven & the middle layer of apples just melts into the coffee-cake style cake, leaving you with a moist, delicious dessert.

Alliteration at it’s finest, ladies & gentlemen. My 7th & 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Clarey would be proud. Shamefully ‘apple cake’ doesn’t start with an ‘s.’ Anyway, even though I’ve shown you the cake… first let’s tackle the easiest of the four: Spode.

A while back, I told you all about my adventures in thrifting- or, as Xenia says: Tales from the Thrift. I’ve bought some pretty little things since that post & you’ll see some of them today.

Like, right now.

Vintage Spode Cowslip pattern bread & butter plates (+ a recipe for apple cake with hazelnuts).

See? Those plates. They’re Spode “Cowslip” pattern bread & butter dishes, or appetizer dishes. I got them for less than $2.00 a piece (actually closer to a buck a piece) in a thrift store, and according to Replacements.com that’s quite a good deal. I should’ve bought the whole dinnerware set, but they were asking a bit much considering there was quite a lot of it missing. Regardless, I’m happy with my four little plates- dating from December 1950, according to the marks on the bottom (D50). Since the pattern was only started in the 1940′s and discontinued by 1972 that’s pretty cool.

Spode Cowslip plates (& a recipe for apple cake).

I just love me some cute little plates for serving desserts or snacks. Or cake.

Cake! Apple cake!

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A literal “coffee cake.”

Really, I’m not sure if there’s a more literal interpretation of “coffee cake” than this one… except for maybe a cake made with coffee. Seriously. You see a lot of coffee cakes, and they’re all meant to be served with coffee, hence the name… but this one is truly a coffee cake. Or rather a coffee can cake.

 

It’s a coffee cake baked in a coffee can.

How cool is that? Pretty friggin’ cool.

I saw this during my travels on the inter webs & I thought, “That’s so cute!” Yes, I had heard of bread or fruitcake being baked in coffee cans before, and my mom used to do it. But I thought making a coffee cake in a coffee can was super adorable. And interesting. Something I’d never done before.

Only problem is: I don’t have any coffee cans. I have a Keurig, and when I do buy coffee it’s bagged. The only can I have is one from Cafe Du Monde & I’m not using that for baking. So I had to enlist my father to see if he had any of his trusty Chock-Full-O-Nuts cans laying around, which thankfully he did, and tons of them at that (although I’m still not sure why). Unfortunately, your average coffee cans have gotten smaller lately… from one pound to 11.3 ounces. It doesn’t really make much of a difference to this recipe, however, so if you’ve only got 11-ounce coffee cans, don’t freak. It worked out just fine for me! Yeah, there was some overflow. But not enough to really matter.

If you’ve got one of those really big coffee cans, maybe you can make the entire recipe in one can? Not sure, but I don’t see why not, as long as the large can is at least double the size of a regular one.

CARDAMOM COFFEE CAN CAKE (adapted from iVillage)

Ingredients:

  • 2 coffee cans (1 pound size is preferable, I had to use 11.3 oz. cans)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter (for coating the cans)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cool but not chilled, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (*OPTIONAL)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1.  Soak the coffee cans in hot soapy water to clean them and remove any labels and/or glue. Please do not attempt to make these with the labels still on the cans. Dry the cans thoroughly in a warm oven. Heavily coat the interior of the cans with the soft butter (3 tablespoons) once they have cooled.
  2. To make the dough, combine the buttermilk and butter slices (1/2 cup or 1 stick) in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm the mixture until the butter slices start to melt. Set the pan aside. Combine the warm water, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, and yeast in a 4-cup liquid measure and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set the mixture aside.
  3. Put the flour and the cardamom (1/4 teaspoon) in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade or the steel chopping blade. Pulse the machine on and off three times. Add the brown sugar, salt, eggs, and yeast mixture to the flour mixture and process for 1 full minute. With the machine still running, slowly pour the buttermilk mixture through the feed tube, then immediately turn off the processor. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl and add the raisins. Pulse the processor on and off several times or until the raisins are distributed throughout the dough. Divide the batter between the two prepared coffee cans.
  4. Cover the cans with a tea towel and set them in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 45 minutes, or until the dough has risen to within 1 inch of the can tops. When the dough has finished rising, remove all but the lowest rack from the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.
  5. To make the topping, melt the 1/3 cup of butter and brush it over the top of each coffee cake. Combine the granulated sugar (5 tablespoons) and spices (1 teaspoon cardamom and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon) and liberally sprinkle each cake with half of the mixture.
  6. Bake the cakes in their cans for 35 minutes, or until the tops are a dark golden brown. Thump the tops as you would a melon and listen for a hollow sound, like a ripe melon. If you do not hear a hollow sound, bake the cakes for another 8 minutes and test again. Cool the cans for 1 hour on a rack, then unmold them.

Next time I would make a streusel for the topping, instead of what’s given in the recipe. It tasted good, but it didn’t look that great. I just think it’s better suited to a chunky, spicy, sugary streusel instead. Oh, if only. Hindsight is 20/20! I also didn’t use the raisins. I just don’t like raisins. But if you do, then throw those suckers in.

See? Not a very… well… flattering photo.

By the way- speaking of what I didn’t use… I didn’t use a food processor, I used my stand mixer with the dough hook, and it worked out just fine. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a food processor and vice versa. And you might have some trouble getting the cake out of the cans. I had some trouble myself, but I just finagled it by cutting the tops off first, then taking the rest out. Then I just sliced them all up right away for serving. But eating them right out of the can with a couple of forks isn’t the worst thing to ever happen, is it?

And of course, they’re served with COFFEE. And it’d be perfect with some of that Swedish style homemade flavored milk.

(If you want to give them as a hostess gift, iVillage says to do the following: wash and dry the interiors of the cans. Roll each cooled coffee cake in a strip of parchment paper and put the cakes back in the cans once the cans are dry. The finished cakes should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to assemble and deliver the gift. You can also tie ribbons around the cans if you like.)