Apple Cider Pound Cake

It’s that time of year again.

Even though I live on the West Coast and the seasons don’t really ‘change’ here, late September is the time of year that I finally start to accept that autumn is upon us and that I can and should start baking those autumn flavored foods.

Oh yeah. Late September is also my birthday.

I turn thirty today y’all. 3-0.

It’s not that I think 30 is old, but it feels weird that I’ve reached it. I have literally no idea where the last decade went. It’s been a whole lot of change and transition. I can honestly say I never would foresaw any of it. But I am grateful. My 20s were…something lol. I’m looking forward to 30 hitting much differently.

My birthday usually passes by without very much fanfare. But for the past few years, I have given myself a tradition/present of baking myself a birthday cake. I had a little less time this year to go all out than I did last year, but I still wanted my cake, so I just went with something nice and easy–but still delicious.

If there’s one thing that autumn put me in the mind of and the mood to have, it’s apple cider. I’m a Midwestern girl, so cider mills, cider and apple cider donuts and the like are a huge part of my childhood. It feels weird if I go without them. This year for my 30th birthday on the West coast, I thought I would give myself a present that would remind me of the Midwest.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve seen that I have a huge interest in making a bunch of variations on pound cake. It’s a Blank Canvas recipe; wonderful on its own, even better the more flavor variations you can give to it.

This pound cake is flavored with all of the autumn spices, as well as one full cup of apple cider. The smells alone while it baked reminded me of being back in the Midwest. After it finished baking, I rubbed it with a cinnamon sugar coating. It’s that cinnamon sugar coating that really made me feel as though I was biting into a denser, richer apple cider donut. It’s truly delicious.

Happy autumn to all, and Happy 30th to me.

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Apple Cider Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 10-16 cup Bundt pan.

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, spices, salt and baking powder and stir together with a fork. Set aside. Combine the apple cider with the vanilla extract in a small bowl, set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or using a large bowl and a hand-held one, cream together the butter and flour until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula in between.

Add the flour and the apple cider mixtures alternately the the egg-butter mixture. Start and end with the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Pour and spread the batter in the bundt pan. Lift and tap the pan against the countertop a couple of times in order to prevent air bubbles while baking. Place the bundt pan on a sheet pan.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven, for about 50-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine baked fast, so check it early, especially if you have a gas stove) Cakes are done at an inner temp of 195F-200F.

Transfer cake to cooling rack set inside baking sheet and cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert directly onto cooling rack.

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating: Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle warm cake with cinnamon sugar, using fingers to rub it onto sides.

Cool cake completely for about one hour before serving with whipped cream or ice cream.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #295, co-hosted this week by the wonderful Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Apple Crumb Crostata

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Guys, I have a question:

Why are we generally taught that taking short cuts is a ‘bad thing’?

Think about it. From the time that we’re little kids we’ve been ingrained to believe that if you cut corners, go the easier route and make the work simpler, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Take the fairy tale, “The Tortoise and the Hare”: The fast, energetic hare challenges the tortoise to a race, confident that because he can move faster, he’ll always win and be better than the tortoise. When the race begins, the hare does indeed begin out in the lead while the tortoise maintains a steady pace. Eventually the hare gets so far ahead that he figures he can just kick back, relax and take a nap and still have enough time to beat the tortoise. While he’s sleeping against a tree, the tortoise passes him by at his slow and steady pace. By the time the hare wakes up from his nap, he discovers that the tortoise has in fact managed to beat him.

Apple Crostata2

Thus, the moral of the story: “Slow and Steady Wins the Race.”

Yeah, um…I kinda think that’s…not true.

In fact, if fables and fairy tales are supposed to be teaching kids valuable morals and lessons and whatnot…The Tortoise and the Hare is actually a load of a crap. Maybe the world was a lot more sunny, bright and idealistic at the time that it was written (though I doubt it). Maybe the ‘good guys’ won more often than the bad guys (again, more doubtful). However, these days I’ve observed that the people who are  ‘faster’and better at winning the ‘races’ of life are the ones who come out on top. It sucks, and a lot of time it’s not even fair, but it’s the way of the world.

Apple Crostata3

I know what I was taught growing up and it wasn’t the moral of “The Tortoise and the Hare”,  even though I admittedly had the book. I learned pretty quick that you needed to try and be the fastest, the best and the most skilled. If you can cut corners and take short cuts to achieve the win, take ’em. The other ‘hares’ around you probably aren’t gonna fall asleep, so don’t count on that to give you the win. Start strong and fast, end strong and fast. That’s the only way you’ll win.

I’m kinda cynical about certain aspects of life, in case you guys couldn’t tell.

Apple Crostata4

I have a point. I’m getting to it now. I CAN in fact make a post about general life philosophy and bridge it to food.

I believe in taking short cuts when it comes to cooking if need be. Yes, even in baking. It can be done. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race.

Let me tell you a story of my own: I had six Honeycrisp apples sitting in my refrigerator with nothing to do. I wanted to make an apple pie out of them, but I was worried that what I had may not have been enough to make a full pie. Plus, I didn’t feel like making two crusts for a top and bottom layer pie. So I decided to take a short cut. When it comes to pie, the ”short cut” is the crostata.

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One big crust gets rolled out, the apples get diced and laid inside, then the edges of the crust are folded up in a rough crimp. The whole thing gets baked off and voila: you got a crostata (the thing you make when you don’t have time or inclination to make a pie).

And doesn’t it look so yummy?

See? I toldya. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race.

This baby is going to this week’s Fiesta Friday #45, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by  Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake and MB @Bourbon & Brown Sugar. See you guys there!

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Apple Crumb Crostata

Recipe Courtesy of Claudia Felming via NY Times

Print {Pg 1} {Pg 2}

Ingredients

FOR CRUST

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice cold water, more as needed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Raw sugar, for garnish

FOR FILLING

  • 6 to 8 Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled and cut into 16 slices each (about 6 cups total)
  • 1/4cup brown sugar
  • 1tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

FOR CRUMBLE

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.

 

Directions

1. Make the crust: Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and blend for 5 seconds. Add butter, pulsing, until mixture resembles small peas. Add ice water and continue to pulse until mixture comes together in moist clumps; if mixture is too dry add a bit more water a tablespoon at a time. Gather dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour or freeze for up to a month.

2. Make the filling: In a large bowl toss together sliced apples, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, zest and vanilla. Set aside.

3. Make the crumble: In a medium bowl, mix together granulated sugar, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Drizzle in melted butter and, using a fork, stir until mixture is crumbly and all the flour is incorporated; the crumbs should be smaller than 1 inch.

4. Heat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 14-inch circle. Transfer to baking sheet and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove baking sheet from refrigerator and let soften for 1 to 2 minutes. Arrange filling evenly in the center of the dough, leaving a 4-inch border all around; reserve the juices.

6. Brush exposed dough border with beaten egg and fold edge in up over fruit, making pleats every 2 inches. Pour remaining juices over exposed fruit, brush the folded outer edge with beaten egg, and sprinkle with raw sugar. Cover exposed fruit with about 1 cup crumble.

7. Bake crostata until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove and let cool before serving.

 

Apple Cinnamon Scones

Apple Cinnamon Scones 1

Happy Fiesta Friday #16 all you lovely people who came out the party! I’m pleased to bring this humble offering to share: Apple Cinnamon Scones!

I think just about everyone has had a certain interest, like hobby or skill that in a perfect dream world, they would like to use that hobby or skill as a job that they could do for the rest of their lives. I admittedly, have had quite a few of these in my short 24 years on this Earth.

When I was in elementary school, I loved everything that had to do with babies, thus making me believe that I wanted to be an obstetrician- this was after I consulted with my mom and found that there WAS such a thing as a doctor that only handled labor and delivery of babies. Then I found out that I wasn’t the best at science or math- both of which you kinda have to have decent skills into become a doctor. So that was out.

When I was between the ages of 11-13 I was  sure I was gonna be an Egyptologist when I grew up- pretty much an expert on everything that had to do with ancient Egypt. You know those mysterious (and let’s face it, creepy) curators of Egyptian artifact museums you see in the movies? Yeah, I totally used to fantasize about that being me.

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When I was in high school, I did some acting in a few plays and musicals and really enjoyed it. I also saw the film adaptation of Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” (which made me develop a mild obsession with all things PoTO related that lasted far longer than I’m willing to admit to you guys) Thus, I got the idea in my head that maybe my true calling was to become an actress on Broadway, where I would be able to become the first African American Christine Daae to a Phantom that happened to look like Gerard Butler’s twin brother. (Side note, I’ve given up on that one completely).

My main goal during my undergraduate years at Michigan State University was to go on to graduate school and become a scholar in academia of African American studies. To be honest, this is something that I’m still kinda considering for my future. I love all things that have to do with African American history, and although the prospect of grad school intimidates me, I’d still feel honored and pleased if given the opportunity to pursue the life of an academic.

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Nowadays, my dreams and aspirations for the ideal job mainly revolve around two things: writing and food. I think I’ve mentioned before that writing fiction and cooking food are the only two things in the world that I could do for free without needing any pay or compensation. I’m totally serious about that too. As a voracious reader as a girl, I finally came to the conclusion one day that instead of just envying the stories of my favorite authors, maybe I should just try creating some of my own stories and characters- so I did. My writing has really become one of the main stress relievers that I have in my life. I can’t imagine life without it. The best part is that it’s become an ongoing journey that never has to end- the more and longer that I write, the  more that I think I have and will continue to improve my skills…which leads to my ‘ideal world’ dream of becoming a bestselling author that just writes books for a living. It’s definitely a long shot, but a girl can still dream, can’t she?

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And of course, there’s my cooking. You guys ought to know by now that my cooking is my refuge. When I cook, all is well with my world. There’s just me, the kitchen, my ingredients, and the music in the background. Blogging has really just served to elevate my love and respect for cooking- I not only get to share it with my family and friends, I also get to share with you all…the pictures, that is 🙂 My friend Prudy at Butter, Basil & Breadcrumbs told me in one of my past posts that I should open a bakery. I found this to be rather coincidental, as running a small bakery is something I can half see myself doing in an ideal, care-less world. Running a restaurant- definitely not. But a bakery, I think I could do.

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So, some of you may remember a few months ago when I first made these Banana Bread Scones. (If you don’t or weren’t following my blog at the time, I highly recommend you go and check them out cause they’re friggin awesome) They were a smashing hit, and I was so impressed with them that I almost immediately decided that I would be making scones- any kind of scones- again as soon as possible. I finally settled on these- and I can’t tell you how happy I was that I did.

I didn’t think it was possible to top the Banana Bread Scones, but honestly I kinda think that these do. What else can I say? They’re thick, flaky, tender and bursting with apples and cinnamon chips. You may notice that mine are iced- technically the recipe didn’t call for it but I went ahead and decided to throw together a quick icing using confectioner’s sugar, a few teaspoons of milk, vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon. My family always whines about how much I use icing for every baked good that I make, but I don’t care. I love icing. Icing is everything. Everything in life.

These scones make me think that maybe I should start taking my little dream world aspiration of opening a bakery a reality someday- after I’ve sold my hundreds of thousands of books on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, that is.

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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Apple Cinnamon Scones

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice or ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh apple, in 1/2″ pieces leave the skin on, if you like
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spice.

2. Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it’s OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

3. Stir in the chopped apple and cinnamon chips.

4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce.

5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

6. Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don’t have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.

7. Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Gently pat and round each half into a 5″ to 5 1/2″ circle about 3/4″ thick.

8. Using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.

9. Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.

10. For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.

11. Bake the scones for 18 to 22 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the say through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

12. Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they’re completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days. (Yield: 12 scones)

 

 

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