Iced Orange Cream Scones

Watching Downton Abbey always makes me have this random and somewhat impractical wish to drop everything, go off the grid and open a tea room somewhere.

I didn’t use to like it at all, but I’ve gotten into drinking a lot more tea over the past few years. I’m partial to spicy ones, both for flavor and because they really help cure some of my digestive woes.

Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of running a tea room would be the menu planning. Tea rooms menus feature all kind of dainty and delicious looking treats. I have yet to tackle making cucumber or watercress sandwiches. I still haven’t checked off the Victoria Sandwich Cake from my Baking Bucket List (soon come though). There is one staple from the tea menu that I’ve made my share of: the almighty scone.

I’ve been trying to bring my scone making technique up to par with my biscuit making one, especially as the method for making them is so similar. I have a whole post dedicated to laying out the steps for what I consider to be the best biscuits I’ve ever made. I intend to do one for scones too, but in the meanwhile I wanted to share a recipe I tested along the way to getting to Scone Nirvana.

It starts with one very crucial ingredient: heavy cream. Heavy cream not only helps with the crumb of the scone, the added fat in it helps with a higher rise. I also let the scone dough rest in the fridge overnight. It gave the gluten time to rest and firm up so that when I cut them out, the edges weren’t as easily compressed as they could be if they were still soft. They baked up so beautifully that I seriously considered leaving them plain, but I decided to go along with my original idea of trying out how they would hold up to a thin layer of icing. The answer, again, was beautifully.

If my whimsical tea room idea were a reality, this would without question be going onto the menu. Although they’re technically scones, the crumb is so delicate and fluffy that they honestly reminded me of a dense cake. The icing process does admittedly require some time and attention, but it’s worth it. They’re divine, with or without a cup of tea on the side.

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Iced Orange Cream Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons butter) frozen
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed

For Icing

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 7 tablespoons of water, enough to make a thin glaze
  • orange zest, for garnish, optional

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and stir together with a fork. Beat the eggs together with the vanilla in a small bowl with a fork and set aside.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir in the orange zest.

Make a well in the center. Pour in the beaten egg-vanilla mixture. Pour in the heavy cream. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional heavy cream until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the scone dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each. Cut the squares into triangles. (You can also leave some as squares if you want to keep them a little bigger; the sizes here are up to you).

Remove the cut scones to a baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the scones to cool right on the pan. When they’re cool, if you wish, you can cut each scone in half once again to make even tinier scones. Or, you can leave them as is.

For the icing: stir together the powdered sugar and enough of the water to make a glaze that is not so watery that it’s runny, but not too thick so that it won’t run down the sides of the scones.

Line another baking sheet with foil and a wire rack and set next to your bowl of icing.

Place a scone upside down into the bowl of icing. Gently lift it out, right side up and balance it on a spatula (the kind you’d use to flip pancakes) As the icing starts to run down the sides, use a fork to help spread it around evenly. Place the iced scone on the wire rack and sprinkle with orange zest.

Repeat process with the rest of the scones. Allow to sit for at least one hour, until the icing has hardened.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #265, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

 

Pecan Praline Cream Cheese King Cake

Laissez le bon temps rouler, everyone.

That’s French for “Let the Good Times Roll.” It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot at this time of year, as it’s usually the time for Mardi Gras. I have never been to a Mardi Gras celebration. Unfortunately, I’ve never even been to Louisiana. I do really like Cajun food, though. For now I guess that’s as close as I’m going to get.

Gumbo, jambalya, beignets, and pecan pralines are just a few of the things that come to mind when it comes to Mardi Gras food, or Cajun food itself. There’s also a little dessert called King Cake that gets associated with both, and will be the focus of today’s post. It may be called a ‘Cake’, but I prefer to think of King Cake as a very enriched delicious sweet bread that’s filled with delicious sweet stuff.

The fillings can range from cinnamon sugar and pecans, cream cheese, marzipan, or fruit. The most common is cinnamon sugar with pecans. The top of the cake is drizzled with a thin glaze or icing, then showered in purple, green and yellow sprinkles–the common colors of Mardi Gras. Most King Cakes are filled with a small plastic baby to signify the Baby Jesus. The person who finds the ‘Baby King’ in their piece of cake is supposed to have a lucky year.

I made my first King Cake two years ago. I kept things simple, with a twist, and filled it with chocolate. I didn’t get around to making one last year, so I knew that going into this year I was going to be sure I didn’t make that mistake again. I did want to shake things up and make it a different way than I did before. I also wanted to do more than just a cinnamon sugar-pecan filling.

I have one complaint with a lot of the cinnamon sugar fillings in bread that both I’ve seen, and tried : the cinnamon sugar often ends up getting absorbed into the dough while baking, and by the time all is done, there’s not much of it left. I wanted this King Cake to be truly decadent and full of…filling by the time it was finished baking.

I found a recipe for a King Cake that does just that on LemonBaby.co. The filling in Amanda’s recipe is made from a mix of melted butter, cream cheese and brown sugar and toasted pecans. The dairy gets simmered together with the sugar until it forms a smooth sweet sticky spread, then the nuts get mixed in just before it all is slathered on the risen dough. Most King Cakes are shaped into rings, but for this one I choose to make a loose braid that I then wound into one big mass. Feel free to do whatever you like with this one in shaping.

Huge props to Amanda for this recipe. It was EXACTLY what I was looking for. The pecan praline filling doesn’t get absorbed by the dough at all during baking, and the cream cheese gives it a nice tang of flavor to counterbalance all the other sweetness that goes on in a King Cake. It would pair perfectly in the morning with a cup of coffee.

King Cake requires some time, but the effort is definitely more than worth it.

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Pecan Praline Cream Cheese King Cake

Recipe Courtesy of LemonBaby

Ingredients

For Dough

  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

For Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans

For Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk
  • Purple, green and yellow sanding sugar or sprinkles

 

Directions

Pour the warm milk into a glass measuring bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then sprinkle the one tablespoon of sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

Stir together the flour, cinnamon and salt in a medium size bowl and set aside.

Pour the yeast-water mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the melted butter, egg yolks, and vanilla extract and mix on medium until combined.

Switch to the dough hook and add the flour mixture gradually, in about three increments, mixing on medium speed just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour.

. (The dough is ready when you can stretch one piece of it out very thin, and it’s translucent enough to see through.)

Grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours–2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling: in a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the cream cheese over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar with a wire whisk. When the mixture starts to bubble, immediately remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. Set aside to cool completely.

When dough is finished rising, turn out onto a clean work surface and punch down to deflate air bubbles.

Roll the risen dough into a 10 x 20 inch rectangle on top of a piece of parchment paper. Spread the filling on half of the long side of the dough. Fold the dough in half covering the filling. Pat dough down firmly so the dough will stick together. Cut dough into three long strips. Press the tops of the strips together and braid the strips. Press the ends together at the bottom. (This will probably get messy; it’s ok, just tuck in what you can of anything that falls out.)

Gently stretch the braid so that it measures 20 inches again. Shape it into a circle/oval and press the edges together. Use the edges of the parchment paper to lift and transfer the cake to a large sheet pan (preferably one without sides). Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise until puffy, about 45-50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk the one egg together with the tablespoon of water in a small bowl and brush egg wash all over the top of the cake with a pastry brush.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown. (You may have to cover it with foil if it starts to brown too quickly.) Inner temp of the bread should be 200-205 Degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make icing, stir powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of milk at a time together in a bowl with a fork. Add enough of the milk until it reaches the consistency that you like. Use a fork to drizzle over the top of the King Cake. Sprinkle the purple, green and yellow sanding sugar on top in a pattern. Allow to sit for about one hour until the icing has dried.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #264, co-hosted this week by Angie and Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Cinnamon Stamped Cookies

So, here’s a random but I think very useful tip for those of you who love to bake: the prettiest cookies do not have to come from cookie cutters, or cookie stamps.

At least, not most of them. I will say that certain springerle molds can make absolutely beautiful, unreal looking cookies. The problem with most springerle molds is that because they’re hand-crafted wood, they don’t run cheap.

I got into collecting cookie stamps a little while ago and although I got some pretty nice ones, the designs weren’t as elaborate as the springerle molds, which was what I really wanted. Then one day, I was surfing the web for cookie stamps, and stumbled across something different. They were called moon cakes. Mooncakes are Chinese pastries that are typically eaten during the Mid-Autumn festival. I’ve never had one and had never heard of them until then; all I knew that the designs on top of them were beautiful.

Traditional mooncakes are made with what’s called a mooncake mold. It’s a plunger like tool where the ball of filled pastry gets pressed into a shaped mold, then imprinted on top with the intricate design. After I’d done my quick Google search to learn how THAT was done, I then turned to the thought that aligned with my interest: would I be able to use the mooncake mold as a cookie stamp?

Since they were much, MUCH more cheaper than springerle molds, I decided to take a chance and ordered a set of mooncake molds to put my theory to the test. They came in a couple of days and within hours I was in the kitchen rolling out cookie dough. What do you y’all think? Was I right, or was I right?

A couple of things: first, this is a recipe that can be made with ANY cookie stamp, mold or cutter you have. The dough is a basic butter cookie that is flavored with cinnamon and vanilla but you can always switch the flavors up to what you’re inclined towards. It bakes up crisp on the outside and tender on the inside–just as a butter cookie should be. Second, if this post has inspired you to buy and test out mooncake molds for yourself, I would recommend to always use a cookie dough that has been designated as a cut-out cookie recipe. There’s no point in going to the trouble of using the mold if the recipe is one that doesn’t hold it’s shape or design after baking.

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Cinnamon Stamped Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the vanilla extract.

In a small bowl combine the flour with the cinnamon and salt, stirring together with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Roll dough out on a clean and floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Dip your cookie stamps into powdered sugar, then tap to remove excess. Press firmly into the dough. Use a slightly larger round cookie cutter to cut out shape, then transfer to cookie sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough.*

Freeze cut out cookie dough for 10-20 minutes

Bake in the oven on the middle rack until just golden brown, about 9-12 minutes. Allow to set on sheets for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Linking to the Fiesta Friday #258, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Ginger Pound Cake

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you all had a great holiday season that was filled with great food, relaxation and time spent with loved ones. It’s crazy that we’ve already left 2018 behind. I have a lot of optimism that 2019 will be a good year with lots of much needed change. After I finished the 12 Days of Christmas, I needed a wee break to recoup from all that baking. I’ve got my rest and I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. So, let’s start this year’s recipes off the right way, shall we?

I’ve spoken before on here about my love for ginger. You can search the Recipe Index for the various recipes I’ve used it in in; it’s a great ingredient. There are a lot of uses to be found for it and lately, I’ve always seemed to have a stalk or 2 of it in my fridge. Ground ginger often finds its way into desserts like gingerbread, but my favorite way to use and eat it is when it’s been candied/crystallized.

The only downside to candied and crystallized ginger is that most of the time, it doesn’t run cheap in the stores. In my opinion at least, it’s often overpriced. Not to worry though. There’s an easy way around that. You can always just make your own.

It’s easy. It’s MUCH more inexpensive. It’s worth it. (Check out my instagram now for the step by step instructions) And when you’ve finished looking that over (and after you’ve made some crystallized ginger for yourself), come back here and check out today’s recipe. Trust me, we’re going to put it to good use.

A pound cake is the perfect dessert/blank canvas to test out a wide variety of flavors. It’s already plenty delicious on its own–any added flavor you give to the batter will serve to just amplify the finished cake. I’ve done quite a bit of it here on the blog already, and now I’m pleased to share this new addition to the Pound Cake Pantheon of Awesomeness (I totally came up with that on the spot, can’t you tell?)

The recipe uses ginger in two ways: ground ginger that gets sifted in with the other dry ingredients, and crystallized ginger that gets steeped in milk for a few minutes. Both the ginger and the ginger flavored milk are then mixed into the batter.With six eggs in it, this is going to be one very tall cake. If you’re not sure if your bundt pan can fit up to 16 cups, then I’d recommend splitting it between two loaf pans, just to be on the safe side.

The texture of this cake is sublime. It’s rich, buttery and moist enough to where you could eat it plain and still be totally satisified–or go the extra mile and throw on the ginger flavored icing. Combined with the richness of the cake itself, the ginger here adds a spicy sweet flavor that’s got great bite, but still isn’t overpowering. I really enjoyed this cake and I think you will too.

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Ginger Pound Cake

Recipe Courtesy of The Southern Cake Book

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 ounces of crystallized ginger, finely minced
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 16 cup (10 inch) Bundt or tube pan.

Simmer milk and ginger together in a small saucepan over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until thoroughly heated. (Don’t let it boil.) Remove from the heat and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. Add the vanilla extract to the milk.

Stir together the flour with the ground ginger in a bowl with a fork, and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, about 1 cup at a time, beating 5-7 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears. (Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you’re doing this to ensure even mixing.)

Add the flour to the butter mixer alternatively with the milk (begin and end with the flour). Beat at a low speed, just until combined after each addition.

Pour the batter into the cake pan. Lift and tap it down on the counter a few times (this will prevent air bubbles from forming). Place the cake pan on a sheet pan, then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and cake reaches an inner temp of 205-210 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir together the ingredients for the icing together in a bowl. It shouldn’t be too runny, just loose enough to drizzle. Use the tines of a fork to drizzle the icing over the cake in a decorative design. Allow to to sit for about 30 minutes, just until icing has set. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #257, co-hosted this week by Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

Cranberry Buckle

Have you ever cooked or baked something that was really really good, but needed to come with an explanation?

I was looking over the Recipe Index of this blog and realized that I do that pretty often, actually. I’ll announce that I’m making something to my family and the response will be, “Huh?” or “What’s that?”

The conversations usually go something like this:

Me: “I’m making Shakshuka and naan for dinner.”

Family: “What’s Shakshuka?”

Me: “It’s kinda like a tomato sauce, except you put cumin, eggs and ground beef in it. The naan is the dipping bread that goes along with it.”

Family: “…..Um.”

Me: “Look, just don’t worry about it. I know what I’m doing, and it’s going to be fantastic, trust me!”

Occasionally it may be a miss, but 9 times out of 10, I’m usually right and the recipe that needed an explanation was still delicious.

Today I’m sharing another one of those recipes that I had to give an explanation for. Unless you’re a baker or someone who bakes with fruit pretty often, I’ve noticed that not a lot of people will know exactly what you’re talking about when you announce that you’re going to bake a buckle. They may have a vague idea, but if you had to differentiate it from say, a cobbler, grunt or pandowdy, they probably won’t know.

The closest comparison that I can give to a buckle is a coffee cake. This coffee cake batter has a lot of fruit in it–like, a lot. There’s actually more fruit than batter. The batter’s function is to absorb the fruit and hold it all together like a cake-like sponge. The cake does rise thanks to leavening agents, but the amount of fruit in the batter does weigh it down. There’s also a streusel topping that gets sprinkled on top of the batter before baking. After baking, the bumpy uneven surface of that streusel looks ‘buckled’–hence the name.

Most buckles are made with blueberries, but because this was for the 12 Days of Christmas, I decided to make mine with cranberries, which I find more festive (and tasty). It came together in literally minutes.

You may be tempted to reign it in when it’s time to add in the cranberries. I was. Three cups is a lot, especially for such a small pan of cake and a batter that is thick. But, listen: we’ve already been through this. The primary function of the batter is to just hold the fruit together. The more fruit that is in this, the better it’s going to turn out. Trust me. Add the whole three cups. Just do it.

Same thing with that streusel: it may seem like it’s too much when you’re mixing it together. It’s not. It’s just enough. Dump it all on top of the batter. The whole she-bang. You will thank me later.

We loved this so much. I had originally intended to send it to an office to share, but upon sampling it, the Family made an executive decision that we were no longer interested in sharing, and that the Cranberry buckle would be staying right here at home with us. Once you bake this, you’ll understand why.

Don’t forget to check out the other recipes from the 12 Days of Christmas series if you haven’t already:

DAY 1: VANILLA RED PINWHEELS

DAY 2: CHRISTMAS ELF BITES

DAY 3: THREE FRENCH HEN PIES

DAY 4: CRANBERRY BUCKLE

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Cranberry Buckle

Recipe Adapted from Alton Brown

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (plus more if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries

For Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes.

Directions

Lightly spray an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish or cake pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a small bowl use a wire whisk or a fork to combine the flour with the baking powder, salt, and ginger and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer using the paddle attachment (or using a handheld one), cream together the butter and the sugar until it’s creamy. Add the egg and stir just until combined.

Pour the vanilla and milk together in a small cup.

Add the flour and the milk to the batter alternately in batches, starting and ending with the flour. (This batter is supposed to be thick, but if it’s too thick to spread in the pan and/or too crumbly, you can add in a few tablespoons of milk–just enough to make it smooth enough to spread.)

Use a spatula to fold in the cranberries. Spread the batter into the baking dish and place the baking dish on a sheet tray.

For the streusel: combine the flour, sugar and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Use the tines of a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like course breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on top of the batter in the pan.

Bake until golden brown and puffed up in the middle, 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #253: co-hosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas, and Spoons and Mila @ Milkandbun.

Banana Cream Cake

So, guess what?

In last week’s post I said that rather than wait for the autumn weather to kick in before I started posting ‘autumn recipes’ and comfort food, I would just start baking & posting autumn recipes and let the weather catch up to me later.

This week, the temperature dropped around 10-15 degrees in our area.

Iiiiiiiii would like to think I had a thing or two to do with it.

(Probably not, it’s likely due to some natural–or rather unnatural, because, global warming–causes but I’m claiming the credit for it anyway.)

The weather is cooling down because it’s trying to align with my autumn baking. What can I say except, you’re welcome?

This week’s recipe happened because of a tale as old as time.

Girl goes to store. Girl buys green bananas, thinking she has plenty of time to eat them. One days passes. Bananas are still green. Two days pass. Bananas are just barely starting to yellow. Three days pass.

Bananas are ripe. Too ripe to eat. Girl is now stuck with four overripe bananas.

I guess ‘stuck’ is a little harsh. Bakers know that overripe bananas are really a blessing in disguise–they give you an excuse to put a healthy fruit into a not-as-healthy baked treat. Oftentimes, that treat is banana bread. Banana bread is great and easy, as are banana muffins. This time around though, I decided to try to go with something a bit different than what I was used to. It’s not too much more difficult than the bread or muffins, but I’ll tell you what: it IS a good deal greater.

One of the reasons that I love using bananas in cake is that they lend themselves really really well to cake batter. Why? Because the fat and moisture content in them helps keep the finished cake INCREDIBLY moist. So long as you’re using overly ripe bananas, it’s going to be quite difficult to overbake/dry that sucka out. This is a perfectly delicious banana cake all on its own. It’s then made even more delicious by a ribbon of vanilla cream cheese filling that gets poured on top of half the batter, then the other half of the batter is poured on top of that. The smells alone as it bakes are glorious. As for the taste…you can probably guess.

What can I say except…you’re welcome?

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Banana Cream Cake

Recipe Adapted from NordicWare

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed ripened banana
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For Cream Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk, to thin

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt or tube pan and set aside. In a measuring cup or small bowl, pour the milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice together and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour with the baking soda and salt. Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until the yellow disappears. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to ensure even mixing.

Add the mashed bananas, stirring just until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat dry ingredients and milk mixture alternately into batter. (Start and end with the flour mixture) Beat for 1 minute. Remove batter to a bowl.

Beat the cream cheese in the standing mixer bowl until it’s smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, stirring just until combined.

Pour half the batter into the tube pan. Use a teaspoon to spoon the cream cheese filling evenly around the center of the cake batter. Carefully spoon remaining cake batter over filling, covering completely.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is brown and springs back lightly when touched. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto cake plate.

For the icing, combine the powdered sugar with enough milk until it forms a smooth but still somewhat thick icing. Use a fork to drizzle over the cake. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes, until hardened.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #247, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Last week was really hot in my area and I went on a mini-rant about how over it I was. I shared a recipe that was geared towards warmer weather.

This week, it’s a tad bit cooler, but still warm. But you know what? I’m gonna go ahead and share a recipe that is right up the alley of autumn anyway, because I just can’t wait any longer.

Maybe if I put out autumn foods more, it’ll attract more autumn weather to where we are–or not, but I can at least try. And even if it doesn’t bring the autumn vibes my way, I’m still sending good food vibes y’alls way no matter what the weather looks like in your part of the world.

That way, everyone wins.

I know at this time of year everyone loves to throw pumpkin into everything. Personally, I think pumpkin spice is overrated. And when it comes baking, I actually like to take a recipe that calls for pumpkin and swap it right out for sweet potato.

When they’re roasted & mashed, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, and even butternut/kabocha squash take on a very similar consistency. The flavors are different, but they function the same way scientifically during the baking process.

So, what I did here is incorporate a roasted/mashed sweet potato into a pound cake recipe, then added a lot of the autumn spices that are usually given to pumpkin baked goods. The orange zest is there to give it a boost of freshness. If you prefer to use pumpkin, butternut or kabocha squash instead, that’s fine. I promise it won’t mess anything up.

You should know that I originally intended to give this cake a glaze. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, then you know that I usually do. But by the time the cake was done cooling and I had gotten out all of the ingredients for a glaze, I hesitated, looked at it for a long moment and thought, “You know what? Nah. It’s fine.”

Apart from the flavor, the sweet potato keeps the cake itself really moist. The spices complement the sweet potato and give your taste buds a hug. They don’t need any help from a sweet icing and I’m glad that I followed my instincts and didn’t try to give them any.

This is autumn in one delicious bite. Or several, depending on how much of it you eat. And I think you’ll eat plenty.

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Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Land O Lakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan (or two 9 inch cake pans) and set aside.

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together. Stir with a fork until combined, then set aside.

In a glass measuring cup combine the milk with the vanilla extract and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until the yellow disappears. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to ensure even mixing.

Add the mashed potatoes and orange zest, mixing just until combined.

Continue to mix at a low speed as you add the flour mixture and the milk mixture. (Start and end with the flour.)

Spoon the batter into the cake pan(s). Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan and allow to cool completely.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #246, co-hosted this week, by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Mila @ Milkandbun.