Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Waffles



"Brinner" (breakfast for dinner) is one of my favorite dinners because I get to eat bacon, and it's easy to make. So it's a no brainer, and a nice option when you've had one of those work days when it feels like your brain has melted into goo. I've had brinner on my weekly menu for a couple of weeks now, and after putting it off for other tastier options, I finally decided to give myself a break and make brinner tonight. BUT, I also had a can of pumpkin begging to be used, so I figured why not make some pumpkin waffles???


Apparently a blogger has dedicated an entire blog to perfecting pumpkin waffles at "Pumpkin Waffles Blog". I'm just glad that I get to take advantage of this person's obsession of getting pumpkin waffles 'right'!


Much like my Pumpkin Bread Pudding, the pumpkin flavor in these waffles is subtle. The spices tend to build the more you eat. And the maple syrup on top is like the little bow that makes the whole package work. Slightly crispy and incredibly moist.


I had my concerns as I was mixing things up and cooking the waffles. The batter didn't taste all that sweet to me (yes, I tasted the batter!), but knowing that the waffles would inevitably be drowned in maple syrup, I resisted the urge to sweeten the batter. And, as I was cooking the waffles, I had a hard time finding the balance between not burning them and getting them to crisp up (I'm a crispy waffle person). Normally I cook my waffles on high setting, but frankly these need a little more time to cook, and therefore shouldn't be cooked on high. On my iron scale of 1 to 7, I cooked mine on a 5. I think that the extras that I'll freeze will make great toaster-waffles.


Bottom line is, this is a great way to use up some pumpkin. You will not be sorry you made these!
This recipe made 8 belgian waffles. Here's the recipe from the Pumpkin Waffles Blog: Ultimate Pumpkin Waffles Recipe
Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and warm

Directions:

  1. Set waffle iron to the desired temperature (go for a medium-high temp).
  2. Combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Whisk together to break apart the cornstarch. Add the remaining dry ingredients, and whisk to blend.
  3. Separate eggs: yolks go in a medium sized bowl and whites get set aside in a smaller bowl.
  4. Add pumpkin and milk to the egg yolks. Whisk to blend and set aside.
  5. Whip egg whites with a hand mixer on high until stiff peaks form – about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Set aside.
  6. Pour melted butter into the yolk/milk/pumpkin mixture. As you pour, whisk to combine.
  7. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix them together until just combined. A little lumpiness is fine. That will smooth out when the egg whites are added.
  8. Slide the whipped egg whites out of the bowl and onto the mixture you just prepared. Gently fold them in until no white bits are obvious.
  9. Once the waffle iron is heated, you’re ready to pour the batter! Each waffle should take a couple of minutes to cook. Check after the steam escaping from the side slows down. 


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Pumpkin Bread Pudding


This photo really doesn't do this dessert justice. So, I strongly suggest you check out the source of this recipe to see a photo that will certainly leave you drooling here, at Use Real Butter.

This is a very easy dessert to whip up and can definitely be a great pumpkin-based option for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Overall, the pumpkin flavor is fairly delicate and the spice flavor comes through nicely. I omitted the burbon because I had none in the house and that's not something I normally drink so I didn't want to spend the money on it. I also left out the allspice, because again, I had none in the house and never seem to use it.
The original recipe on Use Real Butter comes with a recipe for vanilla custard. I attempted making that, but didn't manage my temperatures properly and ultimately the custard curdled on me. So, I served with vanilla ice cream and was happy with the contrast of the cool creaminess of the ice cream and the warm bread pudding. Someone I know suggested serving with cinnamon ice cream and I think that would be amazing. Even a vanilla with caramel swirl would be good.

This recipe makes a lot, and would easily serve 6-8+ people. I modified the recipe slightly, and have included the modified recipe below. To see the original, plus the recipe for the Bourbon vanilla custard follow this link: Use Real Butter Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 5 cups day-old baguette or crusty bread cubed about 1-inch
  • 6 tbsp (3 oz.) unsalted butter, melted


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
  2. Toss the bread together with the butter in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the pumpkin, milk, cream, sugar, eggs, egg yolk, salt, and spices in another large bowl. Pour the pumpkin custard over the bread cubes and toss gently to coat.
  4. Pour into an 11x7-inch baking dish and bake 25 to 30 minutes until custard sets.
  5. Serve warm, with ice cream

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Strawberry Cake from Scratch with Buttercream Icing




Last weekend was my sister's birthday, and she happened to be visiting me in Madison! To celebrate we went out to dinner and came home for dessert to a homemade strawberry cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. Finding out that my sister's favorite cake flavor was strawberry took a little bit of sleuthing...rather, a text message to her boyfriend asking him to find out what her favorite cake flavor was so that I could make it for her when they were in town. Okay, so not that difficult, but still, I think she appreciated the surprise!

I wanted to make the strawberry cake from scratch but most of the recipes I found online called for a box of vanilla cake mix and strawberry jello. I did find a couple of recipes using a few pounds of strawberries to make a cake that was truly from scratch... I had neither the time nor the patience to make those versions so I turned to allrecipes.com to find a recipe that would work. Mostly homemade was what I ended up with.

The use of strawberry Jell-o is really the only non-homemade thing in the recipe. It's what gives the cake it's nice pink color and most of the strawberry flavor. The recipe did call for pureed strawberries, and while I was hoping to see fleck of strawberry throughout the cake, they weren't really visible. I actually ended up adding more strawberries than called for, and didn't reduce the amount of liquid to make up for the additional moisture in the cake, so the cake itself was very very moist!I think next time, I will reduce the amount of Jell-o used and up the fresh strawberry. The buttercream icing was delicious. And using 4 drops of red coloring, I created a nice powdery/fluffy pink color.
Here's the cake recipe from allrecipes.com:
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup strawberry puree made from frozen sweetened strawberries
  • Buttercream Icing (recipe below)


Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a small knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, before tapping out to cool completely.
Buttercream Icing from Confections of a Foodie Bride:
(Yields enough for a two-layer cake, or 18-24 cupcakes)

Ingredients:
  • 2 stick of butter, at room temp
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 Tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (I omitted this because I don't like almond that much and I didn't have any)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, optional
  • a few drops of food coloring, optional

Directions:
  1. Place all ingredients in your mixer bowl. Beat on low just until you have no more dry streaks of powdered sugar. (Add a bit of food coloring/gel here, if using. If using a vanilla bean, split the pod in half, scrape with the edge of your knife, and add the scrapings to the mixer bowl.)
  2. Turn to high and whip for 3-4 minutes, until light, fluffy, and smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides.
  3. Extra frosting can be stored in the fridge for quite a while. Bring to room temp and whip for a couple of minutes before using.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Top Pot Raised Glazed Ring Doughnuts


Top Pot Doughnuts is probably my favorite doughnut shop on earth. It is a must-visit on my trips to Seattle. So, when I saw a Top Pot Doughnuts cookbook on Amazon.com I made sure to put a recently acquired gift card to good use, buying the book and a nice set of doughnut/biscuit cutters.

The first recipe I tried was the basic yeasted doughnut recipe with vanilla glaze. Since my prior doughnut making experience involves opening a can of biscuits and frying those, I figured that I should attempt a basic yeasted doughnut recipe to get the hang of it before I tackle the recipes that have a very high bar in my house (my husband's favorite Maple Bars, for example). Good thing too, as I learned that Mace, a key ingredient used in Top Pot's yeast doughnuts, really shines through quite a bit. I'll probably tone it down for the highly anticipated Maple Bar.

The only changes I made to the recipe were to use regular flour (frankly, I wasn't patient enough to wait to go to the grocery store again to buy bread flour), and I divided the recipe in half, which worked fairly well. I also used tahitian vanilla which added a very flowery flavor to it, and I think that regular madagascar vanilla would probably work better in the future.

Don't be intimidated by yeast doughnuts. They're just as easy as making a loaf of bread.

You can find the recipe for Raised Glazed Ring Doughnuts and Simple Vanilla Glaze (among many others) in the cookbook: Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts - Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker on Amazon.com

Here's the recipe from the book. Makes about 1 dozen:
Doughnuts:
  • 3 Tbs (4 1/4oz packets) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup very warm water (about 105)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 Tbsp
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace
  • 2 tsp iodized salt
  • 4 - 4.5 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • canola oil, for frying

Simplest Vanilla Glaze (you should prep this during the 2nd rise):
  • 3.5 cups confectioners sugar, sifted (measure first, then sift)
  • 1.5 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp iodized salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup hot water, plus more if needed

Doughnut Directions:
  1. Whisk yeast, water, and 1 tbsp of sugar in work bowl of stand mixer and set aside for 5 minutes
  2. In large bowl, whisk remaining 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, mace, salt and 4 cups of bread flour
  3. Add shortening, egg yolks and vanilla to the foaming yeast mixture. Mix with paddle attachment on low for 1 minute to break up shortening. Add about 1/3rd of dry ingredients and mix until blended on low speed, then repeat with second 1/3rd of the dry ingredients
  4. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing on low speed until no white spots remain each time, adding additional flour as necessary until the dough is dry enough to clan the bottom of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 2 more minutes. (It should be smooth like bread dough, but still a bit tacky)
  5. Transfer dough to a baking sheet sprinkled with 1 tbsp flour. Shape into a flat disk 6 inches in diameter and dust lightly with flour and cover with a dish towel and set aside.
  6. Create a proofing box in your oven. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil, pour water into a 9x13 dish set on the floor of your oven. Place sheet tray with covered dough in the middle rack. Close the door and let rise until doubled - about an hour.
  7. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and roll into a roughly 12 inch circle, about 1/2 inch thick with lightly floured rolling pin. Cut into 12 doughnuts and transfer doughnuts to baking sheets arranging them 2 inches apart and let rise in the oven (with new boiling water) uncovered for another 30 to 45 minutes until doubled in size.
  8. Using a candy thermometer to measure the temperature, heat oil in a deep fryer or large pot over medium heat to 350 degrees. When the doughnuts have doubled, carefully place a few in the oil, taking care not to overcrowd them, and fry for a bout 30 seconds. (Note that the doughnuts will look more brown when they're done than they do in the oil). Carefully turn the doughnuts and fry for another 20 to 30 seconds until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack set over a layer of paper towels to cool.
  9. While doughnuts are very warm, dip the rounded side of each into the glaze. Let dry on cooling racks for 10-15 minutes.

Simplest Vanilla Glaze directions:
  1. Place confectioners sugar, corn syrup salt, vanilla and hot water in a large mixing bowl. Using a whisk, blend until mixture is smooth and all of the sugar is incorporated. If glaze is too thick, add more hot water a teaspoon at a time.

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